T20 World Cup: Meg Lanning lauded after setting new record

No captain in the history of cricket has lifted more World Cup trophies than Meg Lanning, who has been hailed as “one of the greatest leaders not just in cricket but in sport” in the wake of Australia’s epic sixth T20 World Cup triumph.

Central to one of the most successful national teams in world sport, Lanning has been at the helm for five World Cup wins, including two in the past 12 months, which is more than any other man or woman.

In the last year, Lanning has lifted two World Cup trophies, collected the first Commonwealth Games gold medal and taken six months off via a self-imposed break, which some thought could have been the end of her glorious career.

But the 30-year-old, who has been leading Australia for almost a decade, returned and thrived, leading a team driven by a culture where “egos are checked” and now assumes her own place in cricket history, surpassing fellow Aussie Ricky Ponting for most World Cup wins as captain.

“When Meg retires, hopefully not for a few more years … I think she’ll go down as one of the greatest leaders not just in cricket but in sport and just generally as well,” star Australian opener and player of the match in the win over South Africa, Beth Mooney, said.

“I think she’s got an immense cricket brain. She’s cool, calm and collected under pressure and she’s got empathy as well; she understands how people feel in certain situations because she’s been there before and she’s experienced a lot as a person, as a leader and as a cricketer.

“So absolutely she’ll go down as one of the greatest ever for our team and we’re very lucky to have her.”

Veteran seamer Megan Schutt said Lanning’s pre-game rev-up in Cape Town typified what the occasion meant to the captain and her ability to capture that for her team.

“I think because she’s a pretty calm character kind of rubs off on us,” Schutt said.

“She presents this calmness. I mean, her chat before this game was cool because it was a bit more ampie, a few swear words in there – Meg doesn’t swear a lot – so that was really cool.

“It ended with, ‘let’s effing go’ … I won’t say the actual word, I’ll get in trouble, but when she swears, it just makes that oomph.

“She‘s been a leader for so long that she knows what people need to succeed, whether that’s individually or as a team.”

Australia has now won six of the past eight T20 World Cup titles, including the past three, and is the first team to hold the ODI World Cup and Commonwealth Games gold medal title at the same time.

Lanning has now led Australia to four T20 World Cup titles and one ODI World Cup title and has collected more ICC tournament wins than any other captain in men’s or women’s cricket.

But the thirst for titles is never ending, according to Mooney, because this Australian team wants to win “as many as there is out there”.

“We don’t get tired of it; something we speak about as a group is making sure we’re always evolving along the way,” she said.

“I think we’ve seen in this tournament there are teams around the world getting better and better as the years go on and we know that we’re being hunted.

“People are looking out at us for what we do and how we go about it, so certainly it won’t last forever, but we’ll enjoy it for as long as we can and hopefully we can keep piling up those trophies and enjoying what’s great.”

Mooney said the secret to the Australian team’s success was the idea that “we’re all here for the greater good”, and the team is placed above the individual in every instance.

That came to the fore during the final where Mooney, who was frustrated and felt like she was struggling at 25 runs from 25 balls early in her innings, suggested that coach Shelley Nitschke should retire her.

But that message, given to the drinks carrier, never made it to the coach and Mooney went on to make an unbeaten 74 from 53 deliveries,

“I actually asked one of the girls who ran out if she could ask Shell if she wanted to retire me because I was hitting it that bad,” Mooney said.

“That didn’t quite make it to Shell.

“I think I just strive off being able to grit and fight and probably go through those tough innings that don’t feel as good but perhaps get the teams over the line that I play for.

“So hopefully I’ve still got a few years left in me and can score a few more runs, but at the moment I’m loving it and as I said, it’s an absolute privilege to put the Australian shirt on every morning when I wake up.”

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