Captaincy came early in Meg Lanning’s career. In 2014, she was 21 when she was given the keys to unlocking the door to Australian domination. Responsibilities were placed on those shoulders when she was still a young batter who was just starting to take the women’s game by storm. Perhaps that is why when she announced her international retirement, still only 31, she felt a sense of relief wash over her.
“Since I’ve made the decision, I’ve felt a little bit relieved,” Lanning said on Thursday, but also indicated that this has been on her mind for around 18 months when she took a couple of breaks from international cricket.
It is incredible to see Lanning’s career just through the prism of World Cups: she led Australia to one ODI World Cup and four T20 World Cup titles. No other captain (male or female) has managed more than two. She won a total of seven World Cups and added the CWG gold to her cabinet last year.
Emotional scenes at the MCG as Meg Lanning reflects on a peerless 13-year career in international cricket 🥺 pic.twitter.com/MCdkQcHGXI
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 9, 2023
Beyond that, she was a batter par excellence. Lanning burst onto the scene with a century in her second ODI – as an 18-year-old, still an Australian record – and finished her career with 17 international tons, more than any other woman. Lanning’s conversion rate in ODIs is ridiculous as she finishes with 15 tons and 21 fifties.
“She is one of the finest batters I have played against,” Indian legend Jhulan Goswami tells the Indian Express. “You can see from her body language. She is very competitive, passionate, and always had a never-give-up attitude. It is not easy leading such a side filled with superstars in the dressing room. As a leader, she always set the example. I have heard about her tremendous work ethic. Hum log bolte hain na, khadoos cricketer… She was that. A very khadoos cricketer.”
Signs were there early, according to another Aussie legend Lisa Sthalekar, who’s career winded down around the time Lanning came into the international arena.
“I wasn’t surprised when she was called into the Australian team at a young age. You knew her skills were higher than most of her age and even when she kind of burst onto the domestic scene, she was still scoring runs, and she was compiling innings and she had the maturity well above her years. She had all of the right assets to be successful at the next level,” Sthalekar tells this daily.
Lanning’s early days as a batter saw her smash a 45-ball ton against New Zealand at North Sydney Oval. “She kind of came in with a bang,” Sthalekar says. “I remember going ‘wow, like she is a special talent’. Just her ability to generate power that a lot of us and a majority of players were struggling to, she was able to get that through her timing.”
The flick off the pads. The iconic cover drive. The trademark cut shot that races to the rope despite a stacked off-side field.
Meg Lanning, a joy to watch ⭐ pic.twitter.com/EPQhvUBeJA
— cricket.com.au (@cricketcomau) November 8, 2023
Goswami has enjoyed many a battle against Lanning, most memorably dismissing her with a peach in that famous World Cup semifinal in Derby. The Indian pacer says, “Playing against her was a challenge because as a batter she picked up length a bit earlier than everyone else. That ability of hers was absolutely top-notch. She was so consistent and as an opponent, you know that if you get her early, you are in the game. But if she gets set, she knows how to build innings and her conversion rate was so high. Some days, I won the challenge and some days she did. I have huge respect for her, what a champion she is as a batter and leader.”
Lanning bows out of the international game – she is expected to be around the domestic and T20 leagues a bit, having also been retained by Delhi Capitals in WPL – as a bonafide superstar.
“I certainly didn’t know how she would handle captaincy at 21 because she never had captained in the underage as she was always up one age group and the youngest kid within the sides,” Sthalekar says. “There was a hope and a belief maybe from selectors at the time that she would be in the side for a while. She was never one for big talks or ‘look at me’ type thing, she went about her business pretty quietly and led from the front with her performances.”
Kolkata or Mumbai, where will India play their World Cup semifinal? Depends on who they face
Aamir Khan charged Rs 25 lakh for a commercial, Shah Rukh Khan was ready to do it for Rs 6 lakh as he wanted to buy Mannat: Prahlad Kakkar
Some may think leading the Australian side filled with stars was easy, but the hard work that went behind the scenes to sustain this brilliance for so long can’t be understated.
“When people look at the numbers they go, actually ‘wow, you know, she was able to do this majority of the time as skipper, a young one at that, and still was able to perform well as an individual batter’. That takes immense skill and leadership”, Sthalekar says. For Goswami, the ability to lead a dressing room of stars was no easy task either.
The tributes that have come in for Lanning – from her teammates and rivals – are all proof of the legacy she leaves behind. “Cricket’s all I’ve ever known really for 13 years,” Lanning said on Thursday. And the sport, in return, will be grateful for Lanning’s contributions in revolutionising the game. As Goswami puts it, “She will be remembered as one of the finest batters and one of the most successful leaders world cricket has ever seen. A legend.”
Credit: Source link