Cricket fans are celebrating the return of Aussie captain Meg Lanning after it was confirmed on Friday morning that she will play in the upcoming ODI series against Pakistan. Lanning stunned the cricket world in August when she announced she was taking a break from the game.
But her four-month hiatus is officially over after she was named in Australia's squad for the upcoming one-day series. Significantly, the 30-year-old is returning as captain after her break from the game created uncertainty about her future in the leadership role.
Vice-captain Alyssa Healy, who skippered the T20 side in a recent 4-1 series win over India, injured her right calf during that trip and will miss the Pakistan games, opening the door for Lanning to return as captain. Lanning was spotted training in Melbourne on Thursday, leading to speculation she was about to return.
The speculation was confirmed on Friday morning. Tahlia McGrath, who captain Australia for the first time in the fifth ODI against India, will act as Lanning's vice-captain throughout the Pakistan series, which will take place from January 16-21 in Brisbane and Sydney.
"Meg brings so much to the side both on and off the field, and it's pleasing to welcome her back at such an important time with the T20 World Cup just over a month away," National selector Shawn Flegler said. "While we welcome Meg back, Alyssa won't have recovered from her calf injury in time, so that presents an opportunity for Beth (Mooney) to take the gloves in her absence."
Lanning opened up about her break from the game in an Instagram post on Friday morning. She wrote: "I cant wait to be out on the field again against Pakistan. Sometimes you just have to hit pause, step back and take a breather. That’s certainly what I needed.
"The past 6 months have taught me a lot. I’ve learnt so much about myself and who and what is important to me. I’ve always played my cards pretty close to my chest. This experience has given me a greater appreciation of how opening up and talking to the people that care about you really can make the tough times feel easier.
"It’s ok to ask for help and admit that you don’t have everything under control. Having enjoyed some time and space, I feel refreshed and ready to play the game that I love in teams that I love. It’s such an exciting time for the game and I can’t wait to be part of it."
One of the all-time greats of women's cricket, Lanning announced she was taking a break following Australia's ODI World Cup triumph and a Commonwealth Games gold medal in Birmingham. She announced she would miss the WBBL season and embark on an international holiday to explore some alternative career options.
Cricket fans and commentators took to social media on Friday to celebrate Lanning's return.
Meg Lanning back in an Australian squad is great news for her and all cricket after four months away from the sport. Significant that players feel free to step away to look after themselves then still return into a team.
Even more notable that she returns as a captain.
— Scott Bailey (@ScottBaileyAAP) December 22, 2022
Great to see Meg Lanning is back. I hope the break has given her all she needed from it. https://t.co/QddIGrn9vX
— Melinda Farrell (@melindafarrell) December 22, 2022
Meg Lanning returning is great news in general and bad news for Pakistan who are in fact behind Thailand in the women’s ODI rankings pic.twitter.com/b4nJZX5ixk
— Brett Sprigg (@BrettSprigg) December 22, 2022
That’s great news.
— Teresa (@teresa_62) December 22, 2022
I’m really pleased to see Meg returning 😁
— jackie caldecourt (@jcaldecourt) December 22, 2022
Great to see Meg back. On a side note its a shame to see so many players not at Meg’s level struggling to cope or not supported. Help and understanding for the lower levels is an issue that needs addressing by @CricketAus and the states. Cricket can really mess with girls heads.
— Mackay Hurricanes (@mkyhurricanes) December 22, 2022
— Lachlan McKirdy (@LMcKirdy7) December 22, 2022
Big names miss out on ODI squad for Pakistan series
Meanwhile, Heather Graham, Amanda-Jade Wellington and Grace Harris have missed out on selection for the Pakistan series. Flegler said they remain in contention for the T20s against Pakistan and the upcoming World Cup in South Africa.
Wellington and Graham have been named in a 12-player squad for the Governor-General's XI to take on Pakistan, but Harris again missed out on that squad. The development team will play a 50-over match on January 13 at Brisbane's Allan Border Field.
Meg Lanning (capt), Tahlia McGrath, Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland.
GOVERNOR-GENERAL'S XI SQUAD:
Able Seaman Charlee Masters (Australian Defence Force), Lauren Cheatle, Tess Flintoff, Ashleigh Gardner, Heather Graham, Charli Knott, Phoebe Litchfield, Courtney Sippel, Rachel Trenaman, Georgia Voll, Amanda-Jade Wellington, Tahlia Wilson.
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