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Lanning: These days there is no ideal preparation

Australia captain braced for Covid-19 disruptions during India series

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Australia captain Meg Lanning is taking the likelihood of Covid-19 disruption to at least the first part of the season in her stride and believes the team will be ready to face India next month regardless of what their build-up eventually looks like.
New South Wales is in lockdown. Sydney is expected to stay that way into October. Canberra, Melbourne and Darwin are also currently shut, leaving Cricket Australia with a logistical jigsaw puzzle to solve, firstly to ensure the team is adequately prepared and then to get the multi-format series through.
Australia's players from NSW and potentially Victoria are expected to enter quarantine in another state before the end of the month to enable the squad to gather ahead of the first ODI, which as it stands, is scheduled for Sydney on September 19. But that will have to change along with, most likely, the three-match T20I series in early October.
Even the matches in Melbourne - the second and third ODIs - could hit roadblocks because of the need to then get the series into Perth for the day-night Test from September 30, although bio-secure plans may help smooth government exemptions. The squad will also have been vaccinated which is now a requirement of Western Australia for anyone entering the state from NSW.
Australia's plans for winter training camps in Darwin and Brisbane were scuppered by various Covid outbreaks and border closures meaning the players have not met up as a full group since the end of the New Zealand tour in early April, leaving that work to be done with the state set-ups and over Zoom conversations.
"There's an element of the unknown, we haven't been together for quite a long time, haven't had any practice, but to be honest, and we've spoken about this, these days there is no ideal preparation," Lanning said. "You just have to make the most of what's in front of you. You need to call on your experience and trust yourself a lot. That does challenge people but we've dealt with that really well so far and this series will be no different. Whatever preparation we get to do that will be good enough."
Shawn Flegler, the national selector, said: "Certainly there are challenges around it, our government guys are working through that and hopefully we'll get the full series away. We want to get the girls together before the series, there's still a few things that need to be ticked off before that can happen. It's a really complex situation but our team are doing a great job navigating through that."
India will face two weeks of quarantine when they arrive in Australia at the end of the month, but unlike the hosts, they have international cricket under the belts in recent months with the tour of England with five players - Harmanpreet Kaur, Smriti Mandhana, Jemimah Rodrigues, Deepti Sharma, and Shafali Verma - staying on to play the Hundred.
"They've been playing cricket in the UK recently so they'll be match-hardened and we'll have to be on our game from the start of the series," Lanning said. "It's about adapting and dealing with what's in front of us. We understand in these times that things change really quickly."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo