Meg Lanning has revealed she's loving being out of the spotlight and pressure of international cricket and getting back to simply playing the sport she loves. The former Australia captain made the emotional announcement in November that she was retiring from international cricket after a long and illustrious career in the green and gold.
She later withdrew from the remainder of the WBBL season with the Melbourne Stars, sparking fears that she was planning to walk away from all forms of cricket. But the 31-year-old is back playing for Victoria in the Women's National Cricket League, and has shown some stellar form in the four games she's played.
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When she announced she was retiring from international cricket, Lanning revealed she'd lost the drive to compete at the elite level. On Thursday she admitted the change of pace in focusing on domestic cricket has done wonders for her.
"I've enjoyed just rocking up to play and not thinking too much about it," she told cricket.com.au. "For as long as I can remember, every game I played had a lot of pressure and expectation, even when you'd go back to state cricket as an Australian player you feel the pressure to perform and make sure you're using that time.
"I loved every moment of it, but I put everything into my career and got to the point where I didn't have too much energy to give, and the commitment levels required to play within that Australian team are significant. I guess I didn't really have that any more, so stepping away and having a bit more time to focus on other things has been nice. Now I can be a little bit more relaxed and focus on other players as well, and try and help them as much as I can which is what I've really enjoyed with the Victorian team."
Meg Lanning's emotional decision to retire from international cricket
Lanning's comments are very telling, and go a long way to explaining why an athlete at the very top of their game would opt to walk away while still in the prime of their career. The 31-year-old has taken a number of breaks from cricket over the years for personal reasons, but the full story of her struggle has never really been told.
Widely considered one of the all-time greats of women's cricket, Lanning captained Australia 182 times and led her country to five World Cup triumphs. She is a three-time winner of the Belinda Clark Award and amassed 8352 runs at international level in 241 matches - more than any other Aussie female player.
On Saturday, two legends of Australian cricket will be honoured at the ODI at @TheAdelaideOval! 💚💛 Make sure you get your tickets and be part of the celebration of Meg Lanning and Rachael Haynes' careers: https://t.co/ptYmSXzTHA pic.twitter.com/exP0EYpuJO
— SACA News (@SACAnews) February 1, 2024
She made a staggering 15 centuries at ODI level - more than any other player in the history of women's cricket. She became the youngest Australian woman to make an ODI century at age 18, and was elevated to the captaincy when she was just 21.
But she revealed in November that she'd lost her hunger to train and compete at the elite level. In a teary announcement alongside her family she said: "The decision to step away from international cricket was a difficult one to make, but I feel now is the right time for me.
"I've been incredibly fortunate to enjoy a 13-year international career, but I know now is the right time for me to move on to something new. Team success is why you play the game, I'm proud of what I have been able to achieve and will cherish the moments shared with teammates along the way."
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