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Ellyse Perry hails ‘incredible bravery’ of former Australia captain Meg Lanning

Ellyse Perry has spoken of the courage it took for her former skipper Meg Lanning to retire.

Ellyse Perry has spoken of the courage it took for her former skipper Meg Lanning to retire. Photo: Getty

Australian cricket superstar Ellyse Perry has lauded Meg Lanning’s “incredible bravery” after her former captain opened up about why she retired.

Lanning, arguably the greatest women’s batter of all time, called it quits from national team duties in November at the age of 31.

After taking two separate breaks from the game during 2022 and 2023, Australia’s long-time captain’s call to end her decorated international career still came as a shock.

A self-described private person, Lanning this month finally decided to share why she stepped away, admitting to having “an unhealthy relationship” with exercise and food.

“As a teammate of Meg’s, first and foremost, the whole team is just incredibly supportive of her and hope very much that her welfare is OK – her wellbeing, that’s the most important thing,” Perry said at the MCG during Cricket Australia’s launch of their women and girls action plan.

“It’s obviously incredibly brave for her to come out and speak about those things.

“I’m sure in doing so she hopes that helps other people as well who experience similar things.

“It’s obviously really hard to hear that as a teammate, to know that someone that you’ve played with so closely for a long period of time has had some struggles.

“At the same time, I really hope she’s doing well and has access to the appropriate care that she needs.”

Cricket Australia boss Nick Hockley believes there are “strong lessons” to come out of Lanning’s exit.

He commended Lanning’s “bravery” and was “encouraged” by her opening up about her struggles.

“The professionalisation (of women’s cricket) that we’ve talked about has happened relatively quickly over the last 10 years,” Hockley said on Tuesday.

“The support networks that exist at a national level, a state level is something that we really want to make sure we put the best support around all of our elite players, and across the workforce.

“One of the things she talked about on the podcast was actually just being able to speak to people really helped.

“So hopefully here are some really strong lessons in that for everybody and I just commend her leadership.”

Included in the action plan is a mention of “holistic support” for physical, mental and off-field skill development.

Former Australia opener Nicole Bolton, who took a mental health break in 2018, raised the alarm on the increased demands placed upon cricketers when she retired in 2022.

“It’s become so professional that there’s that element of burnout, where players are unable to meet the demands and expectations of the sport,” Bolton said on an ABC podcast in 2022.

“I think my biggest worry for young girls coming through is that you now have to live by your phone, you live by your AMS (Athlete Management System) where you get told what to do every day, day in, day out, and there’s no real autonomy.”

Mental health challenges are not just restricted to the women’s game, with the likes of Glenn Maxwell, Nic Maddinson, Will Pucovski and Ashton Agar having taken extended breaks.

Meanwhile, CA confirmed the WBBL would be reduced by 16 matches, down to 40, to bring the competition in line with the 10-round men’s competition.

After trialling a round of matches in stadiums last season, there will be an increase of WBBL games in big grounds across the next decade.

As part of the 10-year plan for female cricket, CA is targeting winning gold medals in 2028 and 2032 when cricket becomes an Olympic sport.

There will be $500 million invested in infrastructure for women and girls’ cricket, while there is an aim to have at least 40 per cent female representation in key positions across Australian cricket.

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-AAP

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