Leader, batter, legend: 'Megastar' Lanning retires | Cricket - Hindustan Times

Leader, batter, legend: 'Megastar' Lanning retires

By, New Delhi
Nov 09, 2023 07:33 AM IST

Nicknamed 'Megastar', the Singapore-born cricketer's aggressive batting style and proactive captaincy made Australia a winning machine

Thirteen years after she first took guard for Australia, Meg Lanning, sport's trailblazing superstar, brought curtains on her storied career in an emotional press conference in Melbourne on Thursday. The 31-year-old appeared in 241 internationals (six Tests, 103 ODIs, 132 T20s) for Australia across formats, 182 of them as captain. She won seven World Cups, five as skipper, and also led Australia to a Commonwealth Games gold medal last year. With 8352 runs and 17 centuries across formats, Lanning is Australia's leading run-getter in women's cricket.

FILE - Australia's captain Meg Lanning(AP)
FILE - Australia's captain Meg Lanning(AP)

Lanning's legacy though goes way beyond her astonishing numbers. Aptly nicknamed 'Megastar', the Singapore-born cricketer's aggressive batting style and proactive captaincy made Australia a winning machine.

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She made her international debut against New Zealand back in 2010. At the age of 18, she became the youngest Australian to score an international hundred, a 104 not out against England in Perth in 2011. The following year she smashed the fastest ODI century by an Australian, off 45 balls against New Zealand. The record stood for over a decade until Glenn Maxwell hit a 40-ball ton against the Netherlands in the ongoing World Cup.

Captaincy arrived at the age of 21, first as a stop-gap arrangement before becoming a full-time skipper in 2014. Besides the clutch of World Cups, she led Australia to a 26-match winning run in the ODIs which remains the longest winning streak in ODI cricket, men or women. Lanning said the decision to walk away was "a difficult one to make" but reckoned the time was right to take the call.

"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," she said.

"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."

Lanning's decision comes on the back of a stunning few years in the saddle where she won the T20 World Cup (2020), the ODI World Cup (2022), and a CWG gold (2022). Still, the call was not entirely unexpected. The Victorian took an indefinite break from cricket in August last year to "spend time focussing on myself." During her time out, the Australian captain worked as a barista in a cafe in Melbourne.

Lanning returned at the start of this year to lead Australia to their third straight T20 World Cup win in South Africa in March, but two months later was ruled out of the Ashes due to undisclosed medical reasons.

“I guess I’ve got a bit of a different perspective on how I saw the game and how I felt about playing it," Lanning said, reflecting on her journey. "I was always really driven by team success and trying to help the team. I’ve probably been trying to convince myself a little bit over the last 18 months why I should keep playing and what it is that I want to achieve.”

Lanning also captained Delhi Capitals at the inaugural Women's Premier League earlier this year, finishing as runners-up. She will continue to play domestic as well as franchise cricket.

"Since I've made the decision I've certainly felt a little bit relieved, I guess, to have made a call and be a little bit clearer on what the next little bit looks like," she said.

Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley extended his wishes to Lanning on a brilliant career. "One of the finest cricketers Australia has produced, Meg's supreme achievements with the bat have been matched by her inspiring leadership.

"As one of the best players in the world over a long period of time, Meg has made an immeasurable impact and led a generation which has helped revolutionise the game," Hockley said.

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    Shantanu Srivastava is an experienced sports journalist who has worked across print and digital media. He covers cricket and Olympic sports.

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