As the Australian women's cricket team stands on the cusp of breaking a record that has stood for two decades, a fitting symmetry has emerged between the stars of yesteryear and the new generation of talent.
Amid the euphoria of celebrating her maiden international century on Monday, one which guided Australia to a record-equalling 17th straight one-day international win, vice-captain Rachael Haynes received a text message from past batting greats, Belinda Clark and Mel Jones, congratulating her on her efforts.
Clark, the former captain, and Jones, also a batting great, were key components of the side that won 17 straight from 1997 to 1999, including the 1997 World Cup.
"I think that is the thing that stands out about them – that is they have kept in touch with the team and, certainly, the team has an enormous amount of respect for what they achieved and the legacy they have left for us," Haynes told The Age and Sydney Morning Herald said on Tuesday.
"I think about the wonderful legacy those women have left for us. Players like Belinda Clark, Cathryn Fitzpatrick, Mel Jones – all these women who are still involved in the game as well, helping other young women achieve things within the sport, even still beyond their playing years.
"It would be amazing to get the record but I hope, alongside that, the legacy and everything they achieved throughout that time isn't lost in it."
That record appears set to be re-written on Wednesday when the Australians host Sri Lanka in the third and final ODI at Allan Border Field in Brisbane. That Australia cruised to a 3-0 series win in the Twenty20 series, and now leads 2-0 in the ODI series, suggests it's unlikely there will be an upset.
This is a formidable Australian side, one with several batting and bowling weapons and one guided by the mantra of a need to keep improving.
Jones, now one of the sport's prominent commentators in men's and women's cricket, said the manner in which Meg Lanning's side handled themselves brought back memories.
"They remind me a lot of that Belinda Clark-led side back in the day by the standard that they have reached was never good enough. They just want to keep pushing all the time. It's not just great for Aussie cricket but for world cricket as well," she said.
In the likes of champion allrounder Ellyse Perry, wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy, batting maestro Lanning and the hard-nosed Haynes, the Australians have a special generation of talent.
They have benefited from greater media and public exposure, in part through the advent of the Women's Big Bash League and now two host television broadcasters. Clark and Jones were among the generation that had started to make an imprint.
"That's one of the things that we are trying to improve more and more – that is the understanding of how the game has got to where it currently is," Jones said.
"That's why I like this bunch of girls as well – they are really mindful of that. So many girls will be seeing these players playing on TV all the time. Things will shift from that perspective. We paid homage to the Sharon Tredreas and everything in the past. It's nice, because we certainly wouldn't be there without them."
Clark, through her various roles with Cricket Australia, has had a close relationship with the team but other players from her era do, too.
The depth of this current side is obvious. While Healy, Perry and Lanning are the poster names, on Monday it was Haynes, debutant Heather Graham, who claimed her first international wicket, and left-arm finger spinner Jess Jonassen, who celebrated her 100th ODI wicket, that enjoyed the spoils.
It's been a superb start to the summer but the Australians know the big-ticket item won't be until February when the Twenty20 World Cup is hosted on local shores for the first time. The Australians are four-time winners and defending champions but this time the spotlight will be even greater.
"We want to make sure we keep pushing what we are doing and are playing good cricket at the end of the Australian summer," Haynes said.
"I think there is real desire within the team to make sure that we are formidable but we go straight into WBBL."
The WBBL season, this year a stand-alone event, begins on Friday week before the top players can have a bit of break.
"We have a bit of a window to recharge in December – it sounds a little bit ironic in cricket season – but I think players will use that really well," Haynes said.
"The team is at a stage where they are a lot more mature and understand what they need to do to get ready to play good, competitive cricket. No doubt, we want to be playing our best cricket in a couple of months' time. Certainly all the signs are pointing in the right direction."
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