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Lanning refreshed by cafe job and break from cricket's structures

The Australia captain stepped away from the game in August but is motivated by what's ahead

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Meg Lanning's break from the game gave her a chance to feel normal and while she isn't putting a time frame on how long her career may continue as she returns to international cricket she is motivated by what she can still achieve in the game.
Lanning stepped away after Australia's Commonwealth Games gold medal victory in August which completed a Grand Slam of triumphs alongside the Ashes and ODI World Cup, to go with the 2020 T20 World Cup.
She spent time traveling and also worked in a café "making coffee and washing dishes" before returning to action for Victoria earlier this month ahead of the series against Pakistan which begins in Brisbane on Monday and leads into the T20 World Cup in South Africa.
"Initially I wasn't too sure how it was going to pan out," she said. "I just wanted to switch off from cricket, get away a little bit, give myself a bit of time to think and work out where I wanted to be.
"Became pretty clear that I still wanted to play cricket and loved the game, just needed some time to be able to feel normal, have a bit less structure around what I was doing. Having done that, I feel really refreshed and ready to go.
"I feel like I've got a lot left in the game, both from an individual point of view and with the team. I'm not sure what the future holds but would certainly love to keep playing as long as I can."
Getting away from the highly organised and routine-driven nature of professional sport was key for Lanning, who took the Australian captaincy at just 21, and she savoured the very different tempo of serving lattes and flat whites.
"Gave me a bit of different perspective on things," she said. "Just going in and not knowing what the day will look like - could be busy, could be quiet - and having different conversations with the customers, actually found that really cool. Having that little bit of freedom, a little less structure, going with the flow a little more, not getting too worried about things. Working at the café allowed me to do that and had a lot of fun."
She said that the T20 World Cup title defence had not been a specific target for a return but once she confirmed to herself late last year that she wanted to continuing playing - and captaining - it became her focus. She made 29 and 61 in two WNCL for Victoria and now has three ODIs and three T20Is through the rest of this month.
"I came to the conclusion over a bit of time, but guess there was a moment a few months back where [playing on] was definitely something I want to doing," she said. "I love the game, have done as long as I've been playing, and there's a fair bit is still want to archive. Once I came to that conclusion I started to work towards where I might come back and what that might look like. The break was certainly something I needed."
Lanning added she had been given a lot of support from various people during her time away from the game and admitted she had been a "pretty guarded" person through much of her career but emphasised that everyone's situation is different.
"I've certainly learned a lot over the past six months…talking to people and how much that can help work through what you might be thinking about," she said. "You never know what people are going through behind the scenes, that's something that's important to recognise. Everyone deals with things in different ways.
"I never thought I'd take a break a game, it wasn't something I anticipated would happen, I was just playing and really loving the game and it's always what I've done. But it's confirmed to me that I do love playing the game, it's brought me a lot of joy over the years. It's listening to what your feelings are and going with what you feel is best.
"Moving forward hopefully it's something I can continue to do, I certainly don't have everything worked out, but am committed to seeing what happens and learning along the way."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo