Lanning in line to make WNCL return after being named for Victoria
Australia captain has not played since WPL in March having missed the women's Ashes due to an undisclosed medical issue
Australia captain Meg Lanning is in line to make her long-awaited return to cricket in the WNCL after being included in Victoria's squad for their opening two matches against Western Australia in Perth on September 26 and 28.
Lanning will need a final tick of approval from Victoria's medical staff before she is cleared to play in the WNCL opener, but will make the trip to Perth in a bid to play her first competitive match since March having missed the women's Ashes series due to an undisclosed medical issue.
Lanning has not played for Australia since the T20 World Cup in February and has not played anywhere since the WPL in India in March, having been a late withdrawal ahead of the England tour.
She was not named in Australia's squads for the upcoming home T20I and ODI series against West Indies with Australia's women's national selector Shawn Flegler confirming Lanning would return in domestic cricket. She has been training with Victoria over recent months and went on a pre-season trip to Queensland.
"We're hopeful that she'll come through domestic cricket first up, and we'll see how things progress through there," Flegler said earlier this month. "She was up at the Sunshine Coast, and we caught up there. She's progressing well. Just part of that return-to-play plan, we're keen for her to come back through domestic cricket first and see how she goes with that but she's going well, Meg. Very hopeful that she's back on deck at some point during the summer for Australia."
Australia's next international assignment after the West Indies series is a multi-format tour of India in December and January, which follows the WBBL.
Victoria have also named Ellyse Perry to make her competitive return having missed the final ODI of the Ireland tour and the Women's Hundred due to a knee injury.
"Having the likes of Kim [Garth], Ellyse, Georgia [Wareham] and Annabel [Sutherland] available provides a big boost, with the quality and experience they provide," Cricket Victoria's head of female cricket, Sharelle McMahon said. "It has also been great to have Meg back with the squad and we are thrilled that she will be joining the group travelling to WA."
Allrounder Sophie Molineux is still unavailable but is closing in on a return from her long lay-off following a knee reconstruction last year. There is a hope that Molineux will be able to play some part in the WBBL for Melbourne Renegades.
Elsewhere, wicketkeeper Georgia Redmayne made her return for Queensland in the WNCL against New South Wales on Friday after nearly 10 months out with a torn Achilles. Redmayne suffered the injury playing for Brisbane Heat in the WBBL last year. But Queensland team-mate Grace Harris was ruled out after a minor surgical procedure.
NSW captain Alyssa Healy has also returned from the finger injuries that kept her out of Australia's last ODI against Ireland and the Hundred being named alongside Australia team-mates Ashleigh Gardner and Pheobe Litchfield.
Alex Malcolm is an Associate Editor at ESPNcricinfo