Slowly at first, and then all at once. Looking back, Meg Lanning can see her decision, announced on Thursday, to walk away from international cricket was a slow burn that built up across the past 18 months. But it was only in recent weeks, after trying – and ultimately failing – to refuel the fire, that the 31-year-old realised she had exhausted the supply.
After 13 years of giving her all to her country, there was nothing left to give, and nothing left for her to achieve, at the highest level.
“Realistically, it’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while,” an emotional Meg Lanning, who broke down in tears while thanking her family for their support, said to the reporters outside the MCG today. “I’ve come to the realisation that 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.”
She continued, “I’m not someone who can do things half in, half out (and) I’ve battled away a little bit trying to work all that out. But it became quite clear, particularly in the last couple of days, that this was the right call and what I’m ready for … it’s time. And since I’ve made the decision, I’ve felt a little bit relieved to have made a call and be a little bit clearer on what the next little bit looks like.”
Meg Lanning, nevertheless, decided to take a six-month vacation from cricket in the latter part of last year in order to recharge and explore life outside of the “cricket bubble.” Lanning came back to the game in January with the expectation that her hiatus would prolong her international career by a few years. However, she realized she was at the end of her game during her second absence from the national team this year, which was caused by unspecified medical concerns.
“I tried to make it work, I took some time to step away a little bit and be outside the cricket bubble … and that’s given me the opportunity to think about what else is out there,” she said.
“(Cricket’s) all I’ve ever known really for 13 years, and I’ve given everything to being as good as I can to help the team win. Now it’s time to focus on myself and to go and see what else is out there. And what that is, I’m not sure,” Meg Lanning further added.
But in thirteen years wearing green and gold, Meg Lanning achieved every possible victory: seven World Cups, five of which she won as captain; home and away Ashes series; and even gold at the Commonwealth Games.
She scored more runs than any other Australian woman before her and served as her country’s captain for over ten years. The thrill of rising to the occasion and competing on the grandest platforms endures for the intensely competitive Victorian; it’s simply insufficient nowadays.
“The competitive side in me will always be there – I always looked forward to big tournaments and big games,” Lanning said. “I felt like that really brought the best out of me and I’ve really prided myself on holding my nerve under pressure and being able to perform when the team needed me.”
“The nerves and unique feeling around big games and World Cups … you feel sick heading in and nervous but then when you get out there, that’s what you play for and that’s why you want to do it. I love that challenge and that’s probably still there it’s just everything else that comes with it which is the bit that I’ve got nothing left to give.”
The little cricket-loving girl that grew up to win seven World Cups, score 17 international centuries and captain our team on 182 occasions in an era of unprecedented dominance.
A privilege to witness. Enjoy the next chapter, Meg! ❤️ pic.twitter.com/a1YONzncUM
— Australian Women's Cricket Team 🏏 (@AusWomenCricket) November 8, 2023
“Now I’ve got the freedom to go and explore different things and see what pans out” – Meg Lanning
Meg Lanning stated that she did not know what would come next and that there was currently no attraction to follow the road that many Australian captains had taken before her to the commentary box. Rather, the Victorian expressed her excitement about being able to pick her own path free from the rigid schedule that comes with playing international cricket.
She has been signed by the Delhi Capitals of the Women’s Premier League for the 2024 season, and she will play for the Melbourne Stars and Victoria in the local leagues.
“I certainly haven’t got anything worked out … but now I’ve got the freedom to go and explore different things and see what pans out,” Lanning said. “(I’m feeling) excitement, it’s scary, too. There’s so much structure in cricket, you know where to be all the time, your weeks are planned and you don’t really make a lot of decisions for yourself.”
“But over the last 18 months, I’ve actually experienced that stepping back and getting out of that bubble a little bit … so I don’t think it’s as big a jump as what it might seem, I’ve probably already been there for a little while.”
Meg Lanning has had a lot of notable experiences throughout his career, including all of his World Cup victories, Ashes victories, and personal achievements. When asked which stood out as her favourite, she cited the era of global dominance that emerged from the heartbreak of Australia’s unexpected semi-final elimination from the 2017 ODI World Cup.
Lanning’s Australia would go on to win the 2022 ODI World Cup, the 2018 T20 World Cup, the 2020 and 2023 T20 World Cups, and the Commonwealth Games Gold after losing out on the ICC tournaments in 2016 and 2017. Between the beginning of 2018 and the recent Ashes in England, they won 26 straight one-day international matches, setting a new global record. They also did not lose a single bilateral series.
“We learned so much, I learned so much (from that loss) and we probably wouldn’t have had the success that we had if that moment hadn’t happened,” Meg Lanning said of the 2017 semi-final defeat to India. “So while it was awful at the time, it was a really good reality check and the successful five years post that – I’ve been involved in a lot of teams and the way we were able to just come together and be on the same page, on and off the field, it was a bit of magic coming together.”
“I’ve never experienced that before or after in terms of just everything coming together. Myself, Rach (Haynes), and (Matthew Mott) were the leaders of that, but the group really stood up through that period and I’m really proud of how we responded to that. Which all sort of culminated in a couple of things but that 2020 T20 World Cup here in Australia, that final, is certainly something I won’t forget,” Meg Lanning concluded.