Australian spin star Jess Jonassen couldn’t help but “tear up” when national captain Meg Lanning sent a video message to her teammates declaring her self-imposed break was done and she was coming back to cricket.
Lanning’s lengthy stint away from the game, taken after Australia’s Commonwealth Games gold medal win in August, left many wondering if the ultra-successful skipper would be “lost to the game”, a thought that even crossed Jonassen’s mind.
But after living like “a normal person” during her break, even working at a cafe for two months, Lanning is back to lead Australia in the defence of the T20 World Cup title won in magnificent fashion at the MCG in 2020 and everyone is absolutely delighted.
“When we were told a few weeks ago that Meg was coming back I must admit I got a little bit teary,” Jonassen, who is over a hamstring injury and ready to face Pakistan next week before heading to the World Cup in South Africa, said on Tuesday.
“She did a video message and true to Meg, she’s a bit awkward not knowing the best way to do it, but I couldn’t have been happier to hear that news. I love that she’s back playing the game but even more happy and pleased she’s in a good head space and that break, she got out of it exactly what she needed.
“I flicked her a message straight away and told her just that. She genuinely looked happy and for me that was the biggest thing, seeing the difference in her as a human more so than knowing she was coming back to play cricket.”
Lanning’s video message, sent to Jonassen via new coach Shelley Nitschke while the team was touring India last December, wasn’t without it’s worrying moments to start.
But the smile that beamed across her face delivered a more important message than confirming her cricketing return did.
“She started off being ‘I’m not sure the right way to do this’ and my heart sunk initially because I thought she was going to tell us that she’s done,” Jonassen said.
“But she kept going on and saying how much she loves our team and loves playing cricket … the longer the video went on the tearier I got and I had this goofy smile on my face.
“I know what it’s like at different points to feel a bit low, but for somebody in her role within our team, the leader of such a successful team, there’s a weight on her shoulders.
“For her to be able to go out there and live a normal life for a few months, it was really cool to see and really pleased that she is back and in a happy and healthy headspace.”
Nitschke said there was never really a discussion about Lanning coming back as just a player, and not captain, to relieve some of the pressure that pushed her towards the total break form the game that also included travel in Europe.
“With Meg it was more so about what she was feeling, where she wants to take this stage of her career. We were pleased she wanted to come back and play and she was really keen to continue to captain,” she said.
“We were more than happy to have her back in that role. Her hand wasn’t forced. She’s really comfortable with where she’s at.”