“It was a little bit surreal, but it was nice to have the opportunity to walk out there again,” said Haynes who last played for Australia Women back in August 2013. © Getty Images

“It was a little bit surreal, but it was nice to have the opportunity to walk out there again,” said Haynes who last played for Australia Women back in August 2013. © Getty Images

Before Sunday (February 25), Rachael Haynes, the top-order left-hand batter, last played for Australia Women back in August 2013. Returning to the international fold after a break of more than three years, she announced herself with an innings of 50 in Australia’s Rose Bowl clash against New Zealand Women in Auckland.

Her 61-ball effort included four boundaries and she was involved in a vital 95-run stand for the third wicket with centurion Beth Mooney. Australia posted 275, but Amy Satterthwaite’s record fourth century in as many innings helped the home side complete the second-highest One-Day International chase in women’s cricket for a five-wicket win. 

It wasn’t the result Haynes hoped for on an “unexpected” return, but she was keen to enjoy her opportunities when she got them. 
 
“It was a little bit surreal, but it was nice to have the opportunity to walk out there again,” said Haynes, who was the leading run-getter in Australia’s World Cup-winning side in 2013. “I came back into the team with a level of confidence knowing I can perform at this level, so I tried to be positive. Beth Mooney was batting really well at the time, so I was just trying to get her on strike and form a good partnership.”

Haynes, 30, was a late addition to the side, drafted in as she was for Alex Blackwell, who picked up an injury during Australia’s preceding Twenty20 International series defeat to New Zealand at home. 

She had three Tests, 33 ODIs and 27 T20Is to her name before the start of the Rose Bowl series and an ODI average of 32. On the domestic circuit, she is part of the successful New South Wales Breakers side and opens for Sydney Thunder. The selectors expected her experience to come in handy in the absence of Blackwell and Ellyse Perry, who also injured her hamstring during the Women’s Big Bash League. 

But with Perry and Blackwell set to return to the squad, Haynes isn’t looking too far into the future at the World Cup in England in June-July. “The key in this situation is not to get too far ahead of yourself. I’m very fortunate to be here at the moment and I’ve gotten an opportunity because of injury. I just want to enjoy the experience for what it is and try and make the most of it when I am playing.” 

For now, Haynes’s focus is on the remaining two matches of the series in Mount Maunganai, as Australia aim to address their issues and retain the trophy. “It was disappointing not to bat out our overs after having such a great start and good base. And there were a couple of minor things with the ball as well, in terms of extras and creating a bit more pressure,” she pointed out. “But I don’t think we’re far off it.”

The second match of the series is on March 2, with the final game at the same venue on March 5