Lanning’s steely gaze has been a trademark over a glittering career and it was jarring to see her visibly shaken and in tears when speaking to the media outside the MCG on Thursday with a select group of family and friends in attendance.
The five-time World Cup-winning captain said that her time away from the game over the last 18 months, having taken two extended playing breaks for differing reasons had made it easier for her to walk away, after she had battled to find the motivation to keep playing following a 13-year international career.
“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,” Lanning said.
“I’m not someone who can do things half-in half-out. I’ve battled away a little bit trying to work all that out. But it sort of became quite clear, particularly over the last couple of days that this was the right call and what I’m ready for.
“Since I’ve made the decision I’ve certainly felt a little bit relieved, I guess, to have made a call and be a little bit clearer on what the next little bit looks like.”
Lanning revealed she does not know exactly what the next phase of her life will look like. She will continue to play domestic cricket with Melbourne Stars in the WBBL and Victoria in the WNCL to honour existing contracts.
“The competitive side in me will always be there and I always looked forward to big tournaments and big games. I felt like that really brought the best out of me and I’ve really sort of prided myself on holding my nerve under pressure and being able to perform when the team needed me.”
She has also been retained by Delhi Capitals for next year’s WPL and will play in that tournament at this stage. “I’ll continue playing domestically and I’ve got contracts with some teams so I’ll keep going with that,” Lanning said. “I haven’t thought too far ahead to be honest.
“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. I certainly haven’t got anything worked out. I’m excited for something new and something different. I’ll keep playing domestically, but obviously with a little bit more time and opportunity to go and discover new things.
“It’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. That’s what it’s really been about, team success, and how I can help that and I’ve given everything to it. And now it’s time to focus on myself and see what else is out there.”
Lanning worked as a barista in a café in Melbourne last year during her extended break from the game and also travelled to the United States. She took another extended break in 2023 due to an undisclosed medical issue and on her return revealed she had barely watched any cricket during her time away. She ruled out a move to the commentary box in the immediate future but she had an open mind as to what comes next.
“I’ve probably been pretty narrow-minded for a long time in terms of what I wanted to do and in terms of cricket, but I’ve sort of opened up a little bit more to new opportunities,” Lanning said. “I don’t really know what the future holds, but I’m open to trying new things and seeing where it sort of lands. I won’t say no to anything.”
“We had a very successful five years, but we had some lows as well,” Lanning said. “I think sometimes that’s easy to forget that it wasn’t all plain sailing. We had to work really hard to get to where we were and I think that Motty in particular and Shell have had a really big impact on me.”
Mott, now England men’s limited-overs coach, was Australia’s women’s coach between 2015 and 2022 where he and Lanning combined to win two T20 World Cups, an ODI World Cup, and a Commonwealth Games gold medal.
Lanning said her proudest achievement as an international player and captain was helping lead Australia from the bitter disappointment of the 2017 ODI World Cup semi-final loss through their golden period.
“That World Cup didn’t go to plan,” Lanning said. “But you look back at that, I think we learned so much. I learned so much and we probably wouldn’t have had the success that we had if that moment hadn’t have happened.
“While it was awful at the time, it was a really good reality check. And then I guess 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 just to make things work, it was a bit of magic coming together and I’ve probably never experienced that before or after in terms of just everything coming together.
“I guess myself, Rach [Haynes], and Motty 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. That 2020 World Cup here in Australia, that final is certainly something I won’t forget. An incredible experience.”
While Lanning is happy to step away from international cricket, she did reveal she will miss the big moments. “I’ll definitely miss that,” she said. The competitive side in me will always be there and I always looked forward to big tournaments and big games.”
“I felt like that really brought the best out of me and I’ve really sort of prided myself on holding my nerve under pressure and being able to perform when the team needed me and I feel like I was able to do that at different times. I’m super competitive so I’ll certainly miss that side of things.”
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo