Meg Lanning is set to make her comeback after a five-month absence as she returns to lead Australia in the home One Day International series against Pakistan in January.
Australia has named a 13-player squad to face Pakistan in three ODIs at Allan Border Field on January 16 and 18, and North Sydney Oval on January 21. Lanning has been named in the squad and as captain as the World Champions play their first 50-over series since reclaiming the World Cup in Christchurch in April.
In her Instagram post announcing her return, Lanning wrote, “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.”
Lanning had announced her break from cricket after the Commonwealth Games in August, citing personal reasons. While Australia haven’t had too many international assignments since, Lanning missed the Women’s Big Bash League as well as the team’s tour of India recently for five T20Is.
“I cant wait to be out on the field again with Australia against Pakistan,” Lanning said in her post. “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.”
The superstar batter, who hasn’t spoken in detail about her break thus far, added in her statement that she appreciates the importance of opening up and seeking help.
“I’ve always played my cards pretty close to my chest,” Lanning added. “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.”
Meanwhile, Alyssa Healy, who had been leading the side in Lanning’s absence, will miss the series against Pakistan as she recovering from a calf injury. As a result, Tahlia McGrath will serve as vice-captain for the ODIs against Pakistan.
Having won the five-match T20I series against India 4-1, the confident Australian side will be ramping up their preparations for a big start to 2023. The ODIs vs Pakistan will be followed by three Twenty20 Internationals before both teams head to South Africa for the T20 World Cup.
It was not entirely clear whether and when Lanning would return, but national selector Shawn Flegler said Friday that she was “all in” to take on Pakistan at home next month.
“We had always hoped she would come back and play, and a great story really,” he added. “Obviously, she’s taken this time to work out what’s really important for her, things she needs to do to manage herself.
“You know, it’s a tough gig being the Australian captain and she has done it for a long time, so just really pleased she’s refreshed, happy and knows what she wants to do.”
Debuting at 18, Lanning’s skill with the bat shattered records from early on, holding the mark for the most centuries in women’s ODIs.
Australia ODI squad: Meg Lanning (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Nicola Carey, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland
With AFP inputs