Australia Ashes blow as captain Meg Lanning ruled out of tour

Meg Lanning – Getty

Australia’s women have been dealt a major Ashes blow after captain Meg Lanning has been deemed too unwell to travel to England for this summer’s series.

Lanning, 31, returned to cricket in January after taking time off days after winning Commonwealth Games gold, saying at the time of her decision that “after a busy couple of years” she was taking a “step back to enable me to spend time focusing on myself”.

There was no such personal statement accompanying Saturday’s announcement from Cricket Australia and few details offered as it was confirmed Lanning would need to stay home for “medical reasons”.

“It’s an unfortunate setback for Meg and she’s obviously disappointed to have been ruled out of the Ashes,” said Shawn Flegler, Australia’s head of women’s cricket performance.

“It’s a significant series for the team and she’ll be missed, but she understands the need to put her health first.

“Meg will remain at home where she will continue to work with medical staff with the aim to return to playing as soon as possible.”

Veteran wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy will step up as captain for the tour, which begins on June 22, and Tahlia McGrath will deputise.

Lanning, who at the age of 21 became Australia’s youngest-ever captain, has led Australia’s domination of women’s international cricket over the last five years. Widely considered to be one of the greatest cricketers in history, she is a double World Cup winner and has won the World T20 with Australia on five occasions.

Meg Lanning and Heather Knight - Getty

Meg Lanning and Heather Knight – Getty

She missed the 2017-18 Ashes series because of a shoulder injury and then took a break to improve her mental health late last year before returning to lead Australia on its Twenty20 World Cup title defence in March. She also featured in the inaugural T20 Women’s Premier League in India.

Cricket Australia did not confirm a timeline for Lanning’s return.

The women’s Ashes begins next month with the sole Test match against England in Nottingham.

The multi-format series combines 20-over, 50-over, and Test cricket. The women will play one five-day Test – a change from previous years where a four-day Test was played – as well as three ODIs and three T20s.

The series uses a points system, with a Test victory worth four points (two points each in the event of a draw), and each ODI and T20 win worth two points (one point each if drawn).

England are bidding to reclaim the Women’s Ashes after Australia’s resounding 12-4 victory in 2022.

The series is set to be a record-breaking one with more than 55,000 tickets already sold for the event, surpassing England women’s previous ticket sale record six weeks before the series opener.

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