The lowest point of my career

 

I’ve been pretty lucky throughout my career.

I came into a very successful Australian team when I made my debut aged 18; in my first four years, we won three World Cups.

But the last 12 to 18 months have been the hardest part of my career so far. Not just missing time with my shoulder injury, but even the lead up to it through last year’s World Cup was bit of a disaster, really. The timing of the injury was terrible and we ended up not getting the result that we wanted as well. That’s something that still haunts me a little bit today.

I had surgery after we lost the 2017 World Cup semi-final and missed the Ashes last summer. Being out of the game and watching other people do something that you love doing – I hadn't experienced that before. That’s been the toughest part of my career so far.

Meg Lanning is bowled for 0 during the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 Semi-Final match between Australia and India

Meg Lanning is bowled for 0 during the ICC Women's World Cup 2017 Semi-Final match between Australia and India

But looking back now that I’m back playing, it was a really good learning curve and something that'll help me moving forward.

I hadn’t been dropped once I came into the Aussie team. I’d just been in the team all throughout and I didn’t have the perspective of what it was like to be on the outside.

But I guess I’ve gotten that over the last little bit.

I remember going to the Ashes Test match in Sydney last November and I would sit in the change room with the team, and I felt like a total outsider in my own team, in a way. I’d never experienced that before: I didn't know where to sit, I didn't know where to put my bag, I didn't know whether I could talk to someone.

It was awful really.

I didn't think it would be that hard. Everyone else was like, ‘I don't know why you're feeling like that, that's silly’, but that's just the way it was and it sort of struck me like… I'm the captain of the team and if I'm feeling like that when I’m out, even if you're 12th or 13th player in the team, if that’s the way that I'm feeling when I'm not quite in it, imagine how other people feel.

Injury sidelined Meg for Australia’s successful Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes campaign and the entirety of the Rebel WBBL and Women’s National Cricket League seasons.

Injury sidelined Meg for Australia’s successful Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes campaign and the entirety of the Rebel WBBL and Women’s National Cricket League seasons.

So from that point of view I think it’s given me a good perspective on how other players look at things and having been in those shoes now, I think I'm much more well-equipped to be able to have those conversations and just check in with people and I think moving forward, that's going to be really good for me.

And I think it’ll make be a better captain. Captaincy is so much about people and relationships and managing those. The cricket side of things is there and always will be, but the biggest challenge I think is bringing everyone together and trying to make sure everyone is on the same page.

Generally, when you've got a happy team and people who feel really confident in what they're doing, then that's when you do get the success.

So, I think now that I've experienced not just the positive side of it, but also feeling like I'm a little bit of an outsider and things aren't going well, that’ll help me have those conversations and just understand where people are coming from. I think that's really going to be helpful moving forward and hopefully I can start to really develop in that area.

I came back into the team for the tour of India in March and it was one of the best tours I've been involved in. We won the one-day series three-nil and won our first T20 series in a few years as well, but it wasn’t just because we were winning – we really enjoyed each other's company as well.

The team was in a really good space over in India and I think that was about people being confident, enjoying themselves, sharing their own personalities. Hopefully that's just the start of what this team is capable of.

Hopefully my return had a positive impact on the team. I just want to be able to be myself, and also help others to be themselves as well. I've definitely made some slight changes and improvements – especially off the field with how I interact with people and just trying to notice a bit more and help people along if things aren't going to well, or just to have a chat about things.

My captaincy on the field has evolved over the last few years as well. The fact we’re playing so much more T20 cricket has definitely had an impact. The game is always moving and you've got to try and stay a step ahead of the game.

I've always been a pretty ‘go with the flow, not too much planning’ captain. I’m much more likely to go with my gut instinct. That's just the sort of person I am. Generally, my philosophy is that I’d rather make a decision and perhaps get it wrong rather than sit back and do nothing because that's probably wrong anyway.

But that’s also helped by the experience that comes with doing this over a long period of time – it gives you the confidence to just make a decision, back it and go with it.

I've loved working alongside our new vice-captain Rachael Haynes so far. We actually played club cricket together when I first moved to Melbourne from Sydney, so we’ve known each other for a long time. We’ve both changed a fair bit over those years as well.

Haynes led the team during Lanning’s time away. Now in the role of vice-captain, she’’l continue to assist Meg as the Aussies chase success

Haynes led the team during Lanning’s time away. Now in the role of vice-captain, she’’l continue to assist Meg as the Aussies chase success

She did a great job filling in as captain in the time that I was out injured and then she moved back into that vice-captain role perfectly. She's a good balance for me, she's a little bit more detail-oriented than I am and she picks up on different things that maybe I don't do as well. Together as a team, I think we work really well and when you throw our coach Matthew Mott into that mix as well in terms of the leadership, I think we’ve got a good mix of personalities and being able to challenge the group as well.