In my mind I've worked out what I want to do: Meg Lanning mum about WBBL future

S Sudarshanan
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Meg Lanning ©

The news of the week with respect to Australian cricket has pretty much been around Meg Lanning – whether she will join Melbourne Stars after her contract with the Perth Scorchers ended last season. The Australian skipper chose to give a veiled answer to that, talking about weighing between staying away from home during the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) or be around home, given that no deal has been inked yet because of an embargo being in place.

“I have had a bit of time to think through about where I want to be next year WBBL wise. I think in my mind I have worked out what I want to do, but obviously with the embargo period still in place, nothing official can take place,” Lanning, who played for Stars in the first two seasons of the WBBL, told reporters over a video conference on Thursday (June 4).

“It was just around obviously where I want to be for that period, with the international period quite busy, (having to) spend a lot of time away from home. As I said I have really enjoyed my time in Perth for three years and it’s just weighing up whether I am willing to spend six weeks or four weeks or whatever it will be away from home or whether it will be back in Melbourne potentially.”

With the COVID-19 pandemic affecting all sporting cycles, there were murmurs that there could be a curtailed WBBL this year, which the players didn’t seem happy about. But Lanning is hopeful that whatever Cricket Australia (CA) and Australia Cricketers’ Association (ACA) decide would be keeping in mind the best intention for the game.

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“Nothing is concrete yet,” she said when asked if she’d heard anything about the tournament. “That’s been worked through between CA and ACA. I’m sure they’ll come up with the best result for the game and women’s cricket. As players, we want to play as much as we can. We’ll have to wait a little bit longer before we know exactly what’s happening.”

WBBL 05 was a standalone event and was seen as one of the successes for women’s cricket in Australia particularly. Brisbane Heat defended their crown, ending Sydney Sixers’ two-time winning streak and the viewership and interest levels were up throughout the competition.

Despite that, there could be a situation where the next season could not be a standalone one and Lanning said it really didn’t matter as all the players were looking forward to getting back on the park.

“Speaking to all the players as well as the ACA, we just wanna play cricket. If it means we have to play double headers or multiple games on days I’m not sure,” said Lanning, who scored 531 runs in WBBL 05, being Scorchers’ leading run-scorer and fourth overall.

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Meg Lanning in action for Perth Scorchers. © Getty Images Meg Lanning in action for Perth Scorchers. © Getty Images

“We just want to play. We are willing to communicate and negotiate on what that looks like. We played a lot of double headers early days in the WBBL but we moved away from that because it was ready to stand by itself. But we are in a new situation now and we need to reassess and work out what the best thing is for the game and the women’s side of things as well. Everything’s on the table and we have to work towards what is the best result for everybody.”

Lanning was scheduled to begin training from Monday (June 1) with her Victoria teammates. However, the weather in Melbourne didn’t permit that and it was postponed by a couple of days. She’s getting used to “the new normal that we have to get used to” in which there are strict measures and guidelines in place. The players are allowed in the ground only for a short duration and there’s not a lot of socialising. They have to get their temperatures checked every time they come there and are not allowed to use the indoor facilities, which, according to Lanning, are locked off till July.

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Meanwhile, Annabel Sutherland and Tahlia McGrath were the new additions to the list of centrally contracted Australian players for 2020-21. Lanning said that it was done keeping in mind their performances in domestic cricket as well as the injuries to Ellyse Perry and Tayla Vlaeminck.

“I believe they’re both tracking along nicely. The reports I have had are that they’re going pretty well. They’re coming from serious injuries so that’s a long process,” she said about the duo’s recovery.

"Tahlia has got the ability to be an allrounder. They’re very difficult to find – Ellyse could be in the team genuinely as a batter or bowler. They don’t come along often. It’s important we got some cover there and that was the thinking in getting Tahlia involved in the squad. She has played well at the domestic level and has been on the radar. I’m looking forward to having her on the squad.”