Serial winners Australia are taking nothing for granted ahead of their ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2023 showdown with first-time finalists South Africa, according to captain Meg Lanning.
Australia have reigned supreme in five of the seven ICC Women’s T20 World Cups but have never previously faced the hosts in the showpiece.
Having announced that she would be taking an indefinite break from cricket for personal reasons just six months ago, Lanning is determined to make the most of the occasion.
Further, Lanning and her teammates are expecting little support when they step out at Newlands on Sunday but they are up for the challenge.
With another tense encounter expected in Cape Town against the host nation, the Australian captain hopes that holding their nerve in the tense last-four clash will serve as the perfect preparation.
Excerpts from the pre-match press conference:
Q: The fact that it’s South Africa in the final, does that put any more pressure on you guys as being expected to win or do you think more pressure on them as home nation?
Lanning: Oh, I think there’s pressure on everyone, it’s a World Cup final, there’s no guarantees and it’s about what happens on the day. South Africa obviously are playing really good cricket, you know once you get to a World Cup final you’ve obviously beaten some good teams and you’re playing well so that’s what we’re expecting tomorrow, we’re expecting them to come out and play to their full strength and they’re riding a wave of emotion as well so we’re certainly prepared for that but yeah heading into a World Cup final there’s pressure on everybody and you know it’s about executing as best you can at the time.
Q: Meg, you guys obviously had the crowd on your side three years ago, but the team did have recent experience in India of having a very loud crowd against them, do you think that’ll help some of the other players tomorrow with a huge crowd expected here?
Lanning: Yeah, I think so, it’s something we I guess have experienced a little bit before and from all reports the game last night had an incredible atmosphere and the crowd was certainly cheering for the home team as you’d expect here, so we’re coming here prepared for that tomorrow. We know we’re probably not going to be the team that everyone’s cheering for but that’s fine, you know it’s going to be an incredible atmosphere and an incredible game at an amazing venue - so we’re pumped, we can’t wait to get out here and play and no doubt it’s going to be a great contest.
Q: So as Australia, the five-time champions, almost an invincible side, can you talk us through the difference of pressure when it comes to playing league matches, semi-final and the big final because you have done it all?
Lanning: I think for us it’s just about focusing on what we do well and a lot of the time it is just doing the basics and the simple things well over the course of the game, that’s what happened in the semi-final, you had to do the basics well and do it over the 20 overs and we were able to do that in the important moments and tomorrow will be no different. Some players will have a good day, some players it won’t be their day but when it’s your moment to stand up and shine and play to your strengths and that’s what we want our players to do and we’ve done it before but we have to go out there and do it again, that’s really what’s facing us so we’re looking forward to that. We’ve spoken a lot about playing our way and making sure when the pressure’s on and push comes to shove that we do the basics extremely well.
Q: I know you guys are just consistently evolving but with Shelly (Nitschke) taking over as head coach, has there been much of a change in manager or mindset from your point of view?
Lanning: I think most of it has been very similar, we’ve got a very experienced group of players here who are very driven to keep getting better but also understand their games really well and sort of what it takes in World Cup tournaments. I guess we’ve been to a few now most of us which certainly helps. Shelly’s been great, she’s brought a couple of new things to the group and freshened it up which I think was really important to keep us moving forward and I think we’ve settled into that sort of combination of Shelly and myself leading the team so it’s been a lot of fun, it’s a good mix of being relaxed but also being a little bit nervous about what we’re heading into, there’s a big game, but pretty excited about what’s coming up so the team’s in a good spot, the players, we know our strengths and weaknesses and what we need to do and now it’s just about going out there, enjoying the experience, embracing it and making the most of the opportunity.
Q: It’s going to be the same pitch as the semi-finals and we’ve seen how the bases from both sides have performed. What are your thoughts on Shabnim Ismail, Kaka, Marizanne Kapp, they went about their business yesterday and also your observations on your own pace attack and do you think pace is where or pace attack is what is going to differentiate who ends up on the winning side or not?
Lanning: Yeah, no doubt their pace attack is right up there with the best in the world, they’ve got some world-class players and they showed the other day how effective they can be, it’s their home conditions, they understand them really well and what works and what doesn’t. So we’ve spoken a little about them and how we think they’re going to bowl and how we’re going to combat that - so we feel confident in our planning but we have to go out there and adjust and execute as best we can and from a bowling point of view, I think we’ve got a little bit of improvement in us from the semi-final, again, we know the conditions now and what works and our bowling group has been fantastic throughout the whole tournament so we’re planned and we’re ready to execute as best we can and I feel like if we can do that then I have full belief that we’ll be able to get the job done.
Q: There was a time maybe six months ago where you weren’t sure you’d be at this World Cup, what does it mean to you to be here now and to have the chance to lead Australia in another World Cup final?
Lanning: It’s really exciting, I can’t wait to get out and play, these are the games that you want to be involved in and yeah, it’s just an exciting time for the team, World Cup finals, you have to make the most of them, you never know when your next chance might be so yeah, I’m staying sort of super relaxed, enjoying the opportunity, really embracing it and everything that comes with it and yeah, I can’t wait to get out here and play in front of hopefully an packed crowd, whether they’re cheering for us or not, it doesn’t really matter, it’s just going to be an incredible atmosphere and event and yeah, just can’t wait to get out there.
Content courtesy: ICC Business Corporation FZ LLC 2020 via Online Media Zone.