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Clark praises 'brave' Lanning as Australia captain returns

Made 29 in her first outing since August ahead of series against Pakistan

Meg Lanning was back in action for the first time since last August  •  Getty Images

Meg Lanning was back in action for the first time since last August  •  Getty Images

Cricket legend Belinda Clark has tipped Meg Lanning to return to her brilliant best now that her five-month hiatus is over.
Victoria's 50-over clash with New South Wales at Junction Oval on Thursday marked national captain Lanning's first match since she took a break to focus on herself after Australia's Commonwealth Games gold medal success in August.
She made a solid 29 runs from 33 deliveries, belting five fours, before being caught at midwicket off Lauren Smith in the 12th over.
Her knock helped Victoria to a vital 88-run win over NSW, with Ellyse Perry scoring 147 off 125 balls against her former state.
Lanning will face NSW again on Saturday for her final hit-out before Australia's white-ball series against Pakistan begins on January 16.
"It was brave from Meg to step away when she realised that she needed to step away," Clark told reporters. "You can come back refreshed, and I'm hoping Meg's got some great cricket in front of her.
"Cricket's a game that requires you to be switched on the whole time, so I think you'll see some great Meg Lanning highlights in the next couple of years. She'll be great. I'm really pleased she's back."
Lanning's return coincided with a bronze statue of Clark being unveiled at the SCG on Thursday.
Considered one of Australia's greatest ever, Clark is the first female player in the world to be immortalised with a statue at a professional cricket ground.
"It has been quite a journey seeing it come to life over the months," Clark said. "It's an amazing day to be able to unveil it.
"Hopefully young girls and young boys will enjoy their sport, and this is a way for them to see that sport is for everyone, and hopefully they'll see that, as they walk past this statue and then the others, anything is possible."