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Liquid-only diet won't stop Beth Mooney's remarkable return

Batter passed fit to play just 10 days after fracturing her jaw

Alex Malcolm
Alex Malcolm
Beth Mooney could play the Ashes Test just days after surgery, Canberra, January 25, 2022

Beth Mooney set to play the Ashes Test just days after surgery  •  Getty Images

Australia batter Beth Mooney will make a miraculous return from a fractured jaw in the Ashes Test starting on Thursday in Canberra after she was passed fit to play just 10 days after suffering the injury in the nets.
Mooney fractured her jaw on the Monday prior to the first T20I in Adelaide and required surgery. But she was back in the nets last weekend in Adelaide and was running laps.
On Wednesday in Canberra, captain Meg Lanning confirmed Mooney would play in the Test at Manuka Oval.
"She's been passed fit to play, " Lanning said. "So from a medical perspective, that's all good. It was sort of around her comfort levels and confidence levels getting back into it after being hit, she's had no issues at all. So once she was cleared and she's confident and ready to go, there were no issues about bringing her back.
"It's pretty incredible. Right from the moment she got hit she was pretty positive about the whole situation. To be coming back to play international cricket around a week after having jaw surgery is pretty inspirational for the group and she's been really positive around everyone. She looks really good in the nets and in the field as well so she's confident she will have no issues moving forward."
The only concern for Mooney is that she still can't eat solids. Mooney and the medical staff are trying to find ways to get her enough food to get through the Test match.
"She's only a liquid diet at the moment, which doesn't sound like a lot of fun, not a lot of variety," Lanning said. "I think our physio and Pip the doc and the dietitian have been coming up with some meal plans for her to make sure she's getting enough energy and obviously with the Test match, the longer format you need to have that over a long period of time, but they've done a great job and so far, so good.
"She said she can eat unlimited amounts of ice cream. So she's pretty happy with that."
Mooney's fitness means Australia have a decision to make over their top order. Mooney and Alyssa Healy opened in the last test against India but Rachael Haynes did not play in that game due to a hamstring injury. Haynes has opened in five of her nine Test innings and said on Sunday that she is preparing to open in this Test match.
Healy is also keen to continue managing the difficult dual role of opening and keeping wicket. Lanning did not reveal who would do the job on Thursday, nor would she give away Australia's XI.
"Between [Haynes], Moons and Midge [Healy], we'll work through what exactly that looks like," Lanning said. "But they all can play a role on top of the order. So, again, we'll just have a look at the wicket and see what we think will work best but those three will certainly play, it just depends on the order with which we go."

Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo