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ESPNcricinfo Awards

ESPNcricinfo Awards 2019 Women's batting winner: the Meg

The opposition better beware when Australia's apex predator is on the prowl

Melinda Farrell
More on the awards here
Australia had already retained the Ashes when they faced England in the first of three T20Is in the multi-format series by winning all three ODIs and drawing the solitary Test. But Lanning's unbeaten 133 off 63 balls in Chelmsford erased any lingering doubts about the increasing gulf between the two sides as England fell to their biggest defeat in terms of runs. The Megastar lived up to her moniker, dismantling England's attack and leading her side to their highest T20I total.
Lanning joined Beth Mooney at the crease when Australia lost the wicket of Alyssa Healy in the first over of the match. She took five deliveries to find the boundary, smacking Katherine Brunt through square leg. That was the trigger she needed. All the trademark Lanning shots were on display: the ruthless yet nonchalant carving through backward point, the powerful pulls and sweeps, and the lofted drives back over the downcast heads of defeated spinners.
Such is her talent and the frequency with which she exhibits it, a superb innings by Lanning can seem every day. But even by her extraordinarily high standards, this was special. Her first 50 came off 24 balls; her century, brought up with a mighty blow off Anya Shrubsole over the deep square-leg boundary, took just 51. By the time she walked off the field, unbeaten, she had notched the highest individual innings by a woman in T20Is and left spectators breathless at the display.
The only chance Lanning offered was when she was deep into her innings, slapping a short ball from Kate Cross to Tammy Beaumont at point. Beaumont couldn't take the catch and Lanning didn't offer another; it was a sharp reminder that when Lanning is on song, any mistake will have brutal consequences.

Key moment

In the fourth over of Australia's innings, Lanning punched a Sophie Ecclestone delivery through cover and scampered off for a single. Nat Sciver's return throw struck Lanning's helmet near the jaw and the medical staff were called onto the field. Lanning laughed and shrugged her way through the checks and dispelled any thoughts that she may have been affected by calmly blasting back-to-back boundaries to finish the over.

The numbers

51 Number of balls Lanning took to reach her century. That made it, at the time, the fastest century by an Australian and the fifth fastest by any woman in T20Is.
24 Number of times the ball crossed the boundary rope. Lanning smoked a total of seven sixes and 17 fours during her record innings.

What they said

"I said to Beth Mooney out there, 'this is too much fun, let's keep going.'"
- Meg Lanning
"I think it was a masterclass of playing good cricket shots. She just went out there from ball one with great intent, hit the ball along the ground a lot and just threaded it through the field and it was great to watch."
- Australia coach Matthew Mott

The closest contenders

Ellyse Perry, 116 v England, only Test, Taunton
Of all the formats played, Test cricket seems to be the one to which Perry's naturally elegant and classical style is most suited. It's a shame she so rarely gets to play it but, when she gets the opportunity, she doesn't waste it. Perry compiled a calm and patient century in Taunton, taking Australia to a dominant position with an assurance that beggared belief this was just her eighth Test appearance.
Stafanie Taylor, 94 v India, first ODI, North Sound
Taylor paved the way for her side's thrilling last-ball victory over India by anchoring the West Indies innings at a sprightly pace. A mini-collapse threatened when West Indies lurched from a wicketless 51 to 77 for 3, but the captain's experience told as she galloped at better than a run a ball. Her sixth century was denied when Harmanpreet Kaur took a superb catch, but the total proved to be just enough to secure a one-run victory.

Melinda Farrell is a presenter with ESPNcricinfo