06 Feb 2023, 11:47

Dose of normality refreshes Lanning as Australia eye World Cup title

SYDNEY, Feb 6, 2023 (BSS/AFP) - Waiting tables in her local cafe and
hanging out with friends and family helped rekindle Meg Lanning's love of
cricket and intensified her drive to steer top-ranked Australia to another
Twenty20 World Cup title this month.

The decorated women's skipper took a indefinite months-long hiatus in 2022
after an intense few years, sparking fears she would not return.

Her break from endless training and travel included serving coffees and
washing dishes at a Melbourne cafe, a rare overseas holiday and quality time
with her dog Mabel.

The dose of normality worked wonders and she is now back, refreshed, and with
unfinished business at a fifth T20 World Cup, starting this week in South

"There's a fair bit I still want to achieve, so once I came to that
conclusion, I started working towards where I might come back and what that
might look like," the 30-year-old, who returned last month for a 2-0 home
series win against Pakistan, told reporters.

"But having the break, it was certainly something that I needed and it
certainly freshened me up a lot.

"I just needed some time to be able to feel a little bit normal, to have a
bit less structure around what I was doing (and) having done that now I feel
really refreshed and ready to go."

Lanning's return is a massive boost for an already star-studded and all-
conquering side boosting some of the biggest names in the game, including
vice-captain Alyssa Healy, all-rounder Elyse Perry and fast bowler Megan

The world's number one team kick off their tournament in Paarl on Sunday
against New Zealand before pool games against Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and South

They are heavy favourites, having won five of the seven World Cups held.

That included crushing India by 85 runs in front of more than 86,000 fans --
a women's cricket record -- at the Melbourne Cricket Ground to win the last
event in 2020.

- Evolving -

Since that spectacle they have lost the likes of now-retired stalwart Rachael
Haynes, but from the endless conveyor belt of Australian talent the squad has
gained the hard-hitting Grace Harris and all-rounders Kim Garth and Heather

"Our squad has gone through a period of change since the last World Cup, but
I think that is a positive," said Lanning, who became Australia's youngest-
ever skipper at 21 and has led the side since.

"We are constantly evolving and we have great flexibility in our team at the
moment both with bat and ball.

"There is a real mix of youth with experience, and we have got players who
can play a number of different roles depending on the opposition."

One aspect that could prove challenging for Australia is that few in the
squad have played in South Africa, meaning the conditions will be new.

South Africa captain Sune Luus recently predicted Paarl would be "very hot"
and the pitches "worn and torn", but Lanning is confident they have enough
experience to quickly adapt.

"The one thing we have proven over the years is that our most valuable weapon
is adaptability, both in training and on the field," she said, adding that
the clear goal was to "emulate our record-breaking win in Melbourne".

They head into the tournament with a fully-fit squad after wicketkeeper-
batter Healy last week declared her availability for the first game after
recovering from a calf injury tweaked on their T20 tour of India in December.

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