Rewind: Meg Lanning's record T20I ton that won Australia the Ashes

S Sudarshanan
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MEGastar Lanning breaches 'fortress' Chelmsford

Meg Lanning celebrating a ton. © Getty Images

Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney and why, even Ashleigh Gardner come to mind when you close your eyes and think of aggressive batters from Australia. The trio possess – and that is evident from the first glance at them – the ability to clear the boundary, no matter how big.

And then there is Meg Lanning. In a league of her own.

Unsuspectedly, Lanning comes to the fore with her attacking game and catches the opposition off-guard. One such knock of hers was her second T20I ton against England in 2019.

The multi-format Ashes had been secured by Australia when the last leg – the three T20Is - began. They led the series 8-2, with England having a chance of only equalling the points tally at 8-all by winning the T20I series 3-0. But Lanning had other plans.

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The Australian captain hadn’t managed to set the stage alight till then, returning with scores of 16, 18, 69, 57 and 21 in the three ODIs and the lone Test till then. However, Matthew Mott was adamant that a big score was just around the corner.

“It was one of those days where everything went right,” Lanning tells Women’s CricZone. “We got sent in that day. We thought it was a very good wicket so we thought we’d need quite a few.”

Australia lost Healy in the very first over and in walked the captain. “I was in early and the ball came off the middle, went in the gap, got lucky a few times,” she recalls.

At the end of the third over, Lanning flicked one off Katherine Brunt, that almost went the distance, before creaming two in the next over off Sophie Ecclestone. With Mooney for company, the scoring seemed easier and though it looked as though the southpaw was the aggressor, both were on 29 runs apiece at the end of the power play, with Lanning having played one ball less than Mooney.

Meg Lanning in action. © Getty Images Meg Lanning in action. © Getty Images

Lanning soon reached her half century, taking just 24 balls. She mixed deft touches – the glide just past the keeper’s gloves off Anya Shrubsole before she even got to her half century stood out – with the big swipes through the on-side as she marched along towards what would be her second hundred in T20Is. Her first T20I ton was the 126 she scored against Ireland in 2014, which was the highest in the format by a player, before Netherlands’ Sterre Kalis equalled it in June 2019.

Despite losing Mooney, with whom she shared a 134-run partnership, Lanning kept going. She was a touch lucky to have been grassed by Tammy Beaumont at backward point when she was on 85.

The much-awaited moment came in the 17th over, when she moved to the off-side and nonchalantly flicked a Shrubsole delivery over the deep square leg fence to bring up her ton off just 51 balls.

“It’s one of those moments you want to bottle up and take out with you every time you go out to bat,” says Lanning, reminiscing about that moment.

Some more powerful shots and Lanning ended up unbeaten on 133 – yet again owning the record of the highest individual score in T20Is, only to be broken three months later by Healy. What’s more, she had helped Australia to a mammoth 226 for 3 which was their highest total in the format.

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The venue that witnessed this ‘Meg-a carnage’ was England's "fortress" - the County Ground in Chelmsford - where they had won 14 consecutive matches before then. It was where the hosts' Ashes campaign was meant to get back on track. However, Lanning's whirlwind knock meant that the ask was too tall, and England were inflicted their biggest T20I defeat – by 93 runs. It also ensured England couldn’t level the series, with Australia having taken a 10-2 lead.

“The night we won the Ashes was really special for me, to perform at the stage and help the team win,” says Lanning, who hit seven sixes in that innings – joint-most for Australia along with Healy.

“It’s not easy to win the Ashes in the UK and to be able to know that we had them outright from that night. Certainly, very special and something I look back at very fondly.”


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