Evolving Australia want to make it three in a row - Australia captain Meg Lanning

"VAN" (Sports Desk - 01.02.2023) :: It may be my fifth ICC Women’s T20 World Cup, but trust me, the excitement bubbling under the surface in the lead up never goes away.

For one, it will be the first time I and most of the squad have been to South Africa, and while we can’t wait to drink in the culture, we still have a job to do. Not that it will come as a shock, but there is a title to defend, so sightseeing will have to wait.

A new country brings new challenges, most notably adjusting to the conditions. There is just over a week between our flight and our opener against New Zealand in Paarl on February 10. But the one thing we have proven over the years is that our most valuable weapon is adaptability, both in training and on the field.

Our squad has gone through a period of change since the last World Cup, but I think that is a positive. We are constantly evolving and we have great flexibility in our team at the moment both with bat and ball.

There is a real mix of youth with experience, and we have got players who can play a number of different roles depending on the opposition. T20 cricket is really all about role playing and our preparation has been key in exploring different threats as well as providing the newer members of our squad with experience at international level.

For fresh arrivals Kim Garth and Heather Graham, the 4-1 series win in India was the perfect opportunity to integrate themselves ahead of South Africa. We were all aware of their quality, but I I am not sure any of us expected they would assimilate as quickly as they did. Heather’s hat-trick in the final match was a great example of what she is capable of and as for Kim, I know better than anyone how dangerous she can be. I fully expect both to continue their fine form against Pakistan.

But perhaps the one player I am most excited to see at a T20 World Cup for the first time is Grace Harris. She has grabbed her second opportunity for Australia with both hands. Her strike rate shows she is one of the world’s biggest hitters and she is someone who can do things other people can’t. She is very powerful, hits the ball a long way and particularly in this format can take the game away from the opposition in a very short space of time. The way the game has developed in the last few years, no score is safe, especially when Grace is at her best.

We fly to South Africa with the task of emulating our record-breaking win in Melbourne three years ago. The sight of 86,000 plus fans packed into the MCG to watch us play close to a perfect game will never be beaten. It was an experience that will stay with me until the day I die. Certainly, a tough act to follow and nothing less than the three-peat will suffice.


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