If a player like Meg Lanning has to ask for a break, alarm bells should ring | Australian Women’s Cricket Team

meg Lanning is never one to give a lot away. An intensely private person, she is known for her predictable responses in interviews and her dislike of team meetings. A woman of few words, she has resembled a cricket machine for years.

Aside from a brief stint on the sidelines for shoulder surgery after the 2017 World Cup, Lanning has been an ever-present figure in the game since her debut in late 2010 at the age of 18. Throughout her time on the team, the profile of women’s cricket has risen exponentially, bringing Lanning more attention from the media and the public – something that never seemed to fit well with a player who would rather let her actions on the cricket pitch do the talking.

It was perhaps surprising, then, that she was asked to take on more responsibility and visibility in January 2014 when, following Jodie Fields’ retirement, Lanning took over as captain at the age of 21. level for. The marketing contract Lanning – with Ellyse Perry, Alyssa Healy and Holly Ferling – got to essentially be the faces of women’s cricket in Australia led to even more time in the public eye and more pressure to be one of the ‘golden girls’. to be from Australia. sport.

This pressure only increased in the wake of the sandpaper scandal involving the Australian men’s team in 2018, when the culture of cricket was questioned and Cricket Australia hastily turned to the sparkling women’s team – which had never been caught up in scandal before – trying to distract from the bad behavior of the men.

The cumulation of it all – the public roles, the increased visibility of the sport, and the pressure to maintain not only the team’s performance, but their squeaky clean image – may have led to this point. Lanning takes an indefinite break from cricket. In a written statement, she put it as succinctly as anyone would expect.

“After a busy couple of years, I’ve made the decision to take a step back so I can focus more on myself,” she said. “I am grateful for the support from CA and my teammates and ask that my privacy be respected during this time.”

We may never know exactly why Lanning is taking this break. Nor should we expect that. But unlike many of her peers from various sports who have taken breaks, Lanning doesn’t seem likely to give an all-encompassing interview about her struggles, or even clarify that she really wants to spend the summer in for once in her life. the beach instead of on a cricket pitch.

Meg Lanning jumps on Jess Jonassen and Alyssa Healy after Australia won gold at the Commonwealth Games.
Meg Lanning jumps on Jess Jonassen and Alyssa Healy after Australia won gold at the Commonwealth Games. Photo: Dave Hunt/EPA

However, the reason for Lanning’s breakup is not necessarily important. What matters are the lessons that can be learned from a player at the top of her game who needs time off. For someone so established in cricket, who seems to love being in the center with her bat in hand, it’s something to think about to step back and take the time to whatever reason.

The professionalism of women’s cricket – and women’s sport in general – has emerged quite quickly and while it has not yet reached the level of men’s sport, it is in stark contrast to what a young Lanning would have experienced in her early days on the team . With higher salaries, of course, comes higher expectations – more touring, more public appearances, more time for the media.

For a man coming through the high-performance trails, this is understood and expected. They are prepared for the pressures of public life and know exactly what they are getting into. For the young women who enter the arena in the amateur era and have grown into professionalism, it is more akin to the proverbial frog in the pot of water. The water started out cold, but over time it slowly boiled without anyone realizing the difference it would make.

More professionalism for women’s sports is definitely a good thing. But a player of Lanning’s stature who has to call for a break should be ringing alarm bells around women’s professional sport. It should prompt organizations to look at their agendas and ask the question: Are we leaving enough breaks so that our players don’t have to publicly resign to get some rest?

Hopefully Lanning will come back in time, refreshed and ready to destroy the opponent’s bowling attacks again with her cover drive. But maybe this time she—and the other hardworking women she heads—have built more rest and recovery into their schedule to stay on top for as long as they want.

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