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Meg Lanning: Georgia Wareham's injury a significant loss for Australia

The legspinner could face close to a year on the sidelines after needing an ACL reconstruction

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Meg Lanning celebrates with Georgia Wareham  •  Getty Images

Meg Lanning celebrates with Georgia Wareham  •  Getty Images

Australia captain Meg Lanning has conceded it will be a challenge to fill the void created by Georgia Wareham's long-term injury which has seen her ruled out of cricket until well into next year.
Wareham, the legspinning allrounder, suffered an ACL injury early in the WBBL and will require her second knee reconstruction meaning she will miss the Ashes, ODI World Cup, and Commonwealth Games during 2022.
She had become an integral part of Australia's white-ball sides over the last couple of years with a vital match-winning display in the crunch 2020 T20 World Cup match against New Zealand where she claimed 3 for 17 to ensure Australia made the semi-final.
Wareham also recently made her Test debut against India and would have been in the frame for a second cap against England for the multi-format Ashes in January.
"Firstly, obviously, it's devastating news for Georgia, six months or so [out of the game], so really feeling for her and hope the recovery goes reasonably smoothly," Lanning told reporters ahead of this weekend's WBBL matches. "From a team perspective as well it's not ideal. She's been playing a massive role for us and think she would have done again over the next few months with some really big tournaments.
"She'll certainly be a loss, not only her bowling but also her batting and fielding is world class. She'll certainly leave a bit of a hole but - and it's something we've spoken about over the last few months in the India series - it does present an opportunity for someone else to step up and take it. Hopefully we can see that."
Australia had to manage with a number of key players missing during the multi-format series against India which they ended up winning 11-5 although they were pushed harder than that margin suggests. Jess Jonassen missed the entire series along with Megan Schutt, who was on maternity leave, while Rachael Haynes was ruled out after the ODI series with a hamstring injury.
One of the key questions for Australia will be whether they seek a like-for-like replacement for Wareham, in which case Amanda-Jade Wellington, the Adelaide Strikers and South Australia legspinner, would be the frontrunner. Wellington has been capped across all three formats by Australia, playing the 2017-18 Ashes Test, but last appeared in early 2018 since when she has been overtaken by Wareham.
"Think there's some good options out there," Lanning said. "Whether we go with another legspinner or we do have Jess Jonassen who missed that India series as someone who takes the ball away from the right handers, so we'll keep our options open as much as we can. There's a bit of cricket to be played in this WBBL and the WNCL to allow people to put their hands up. The great thing is we have some really good depth and some good young spin bowlers coming through."
Lanning's immediate priority is to try and guide Melbourne Stars into the WBBL finals after finishing runners-up last season. They currently occupy the fifth position with three wins from eight matches ahead of a vital double-header weekend against Strikers and current leaders Melbourne Renegades.
"They are very important games against two very good teams," she said. "I feel like we've really started to get an understanding of the cricket we want to play and individually the roles people will play. It does take a little bit of time sometimes when you get such a new group together and quite a young squad as well.
"I feel we are settling into the tournament really nicely now and it is make-or-break. Think it's pretty similar for most teams, it's a pretty even comp and after these couple of games we'll know where we are at and whether we have the capacity to mix it with the best. I'm very confident that we do. We've shown glimpses but probably haven't been as consistent as we'd have liked."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo