Rachael Haynes – Australia’s Underrated Legend

Rachael Haynes celebrates her 36th birthday today and it gives us the perfect opportunity to look back at her career, achievements and legacy, at large.

Rachael Haynes. PC: Getty Images
Rachael Haynes. PC: Getty Images

 

Rachael Haynes was one of a kind and being a part of the all-conquering Aussie set-up for more than a decade, she was a beast. She was the backbone of the Australian batting for the longest time in her career and what made her special was her ability to bat anywhere in the order. Longevity was her strength and in spite of the various ups and downs, she always made it a point to defy her naysayers and detractors and silence them with her performances. After 167 games for Australia accumulating 3818 runs across formats, boasting of five World Cup wins in her trophy cabinet and a Commonwealth Games gold under her belt to top it off, Rachael Haynes has achieved anyone possibly could not even begin to dream, of achieving.

To trace her career and where it all started, she made her debut in 2009 versus England at the Lord’s but it was her 98 on test debut that announced her arrival on the international stage. What was so special about the knock was how she came in to bat at #7 when the scorecard read 28/5 and the resurrection effort put in by her to stitch the fifth wicket partnership of 229 with Jodie Fields was nothing short of remarkable. Perhaps, assessing her career in two halves will put things in perspective. She was dropped from the side after the 2013 Ashes in England after a string of poor performances. But the way she ground it out in the domestic circuit ensured she was called back to the national side in 2017 for a tour of New Zealand. Then began her impressive road to consistency and she never backed down. Averaging an unbelievable 45 in ODIs and 33 in T20Is from then, she was unstoppable. Occasionally, donning the captaincy hat in the absence of Meg Lanning; she was an asset to Australia in all measures.

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Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning with the ODI World Cup Trophy. PC: Getty Images
Rachael Haynes and Meg Lanning with the ODI World Cup Trophy. PC: Getty Images

 

Flexibility is also what made her special. Batting across various positions right from being an opener to being the trusted middle-order batter, she did it all. Reflecting on some of her iconic knocks, it is impossible to select a few but her 83 versus South Africa in the 2013 World Cup winning campaign comes to mind. It was a tricky run chase but the way she guided the team and stitched another crucial partnership with Lisa Sthalekar was brilliant. Even the 52 versus West Indies in the finals is unforgettable as she batted with immense self-belief and grit helping Australia post a big total that will go down in history as such a fine knock. That World Cup remains memorable as she raked up two more fifties and ended as Australia’s highest run-getter. Known to accelerate when the team needs it the most, her 89* vs England in 2017 when she just returned to the side, she oozed class and finesse helping Australia post a massive 296. Even the 25* off 15 is such an underrated knock in the semi-finals of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2018 that often goes under the radar as she helped Australia post a big total.

Rachael Haynes. PC: Getty Images
Rachael Haynes. PC: Getty Images

 

Her perseverance was seen in other innings too, be it the 60 off 47 versus Sri Lanka in the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020 where she paced her innings beautifully to help Australia win a crucial match after an opening game loss to India or the 130 versus England in the ICC Women’s ODI World Cup 2022, she blunted the English attack before going after them and registering a 196 runs stand that took the total beyond 300 for Australia. Likewise, the 68 in the World Cup finals versus England was also remarkable and she was the unsung hero playing a supporting role to Alyssa Healy who was the aggressor.

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More than the clutch knocks, it is the ever-lasting impact she left on the Australian team. She always guided youngsters and in one of her interviews reflected on how having a long career meant seeing others develop and grow and how that was so rewarding is such a remarkable thing to hear in this cutthroat and competitive world of cricket. When she announced her retirement, no one saw it coming and it shocked the cricketing world but the self-awareness to call it quits in spite of being at her peak is certainly what makes her one of a kind. The cricketing world certainly got richer because of her presence and contributions to Australia.

I am a first year postgraduate student pursuing a MA in Media and Communication Studies at Christ University, Bengaluru. I am a podcaster, blogger and an avid cricket fan. When not glued to cricket matches, you can find me submerged in books and thinking about cricket all the time.

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