Just last week it would’ve been unfathomable to think Beth Mooney would be right to go for the Ashes test match. But her skipper Meg Lanning never doubted that her star batter would fight through to claim her spot in the side.
Struck in the nets last week which resulted in a hasty surgery to repair a fractured jaw, Mooney’s Ashes series looked to be over. With fast bowler Tayla Vlaeminck also sidelined, Australia’s hopes of retaining the Women’s Ashes kept on taking hits.
But just nine days after being struck by a wayward throwdown, the left-hander will play in the upcoming Manuka Oval test match if she gets through Australia’s final training session, marking an incredibly swift return from such a debilitating blow.
Lanning, a well-known tough nut herself, can’t help but watch in awe as her fellow teammate worked her way back from a serious injury in only a week.
“Beth Mooney has passed everything, assuming she gets through training, she’ll be available and fine,” Lanning said.
“It’s pretty incredible – right from the moment she got hit she was pretty positive about the situation. To come back and play international cricket a week after jaw surgery is inspirational for the group.”
“She’s been positive around everyone and looks good in the nets and in the field.”
But clearing Mooney to play in a medical sense was only the start of the uphill battle. Lanning was quick to say that the Queenslander would only assume her spot in the batting order if she “felt comfortable and confident and ready to go”.
If she is declared as fit to play, Lanning stated that she would have no issues in bringing back Mooney to potentially open the batting.
Even though Mooney is close to being given the green light, the Australian support staff have been working around the clock to bring up her energy levels while she can still only consume food through a straw.
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“She’s only on a liquid diet at the moment, which has not a lot of variety and doesn’t sound like fun,” Lanning said.
“Our dietician have come up with meal plans so she gets enough energy, which you need over a long period of time in a test match. She’s able to eat unlimited amounts of ice cream so she’s happy with that.
“It’s soups, milkshakes, and stuff like that. They’ve been trying to come up with ideas to give her variety, and ‘Moons’ has coped with it really well.”
Mooney’s presence is set to give Australia’s betting lineup a big boost to come up against an experienced England bowling attack. The tourists, as captain Heather Knight have picked their XI but will not reveal anything until the toss to keep Australia in the dark for as long as they can.
One such bowler they might pick is Lauren Bell, who was added to England’s Test squad as a bolter for the Ashes test.
Such is Lanning and Australia’s preparation, they are already familiar with the uncapped pace bowler. The 21-year-old bowler was added to England’s 18-person squad for the longer format contest, and adds something new to England’s line-up.
“I’ve watched a bit of vision of her, she looks like a nice and tall bowler, which adds a point of difference for them,” Lanning said.
“If she does get her chance we’ll be ready, but it’s a good opportunity for her.”
With the Manuka Oval pitch looking very green, Lanning is undecided as to what she’ll do if the toss falls her way on the opening morning. The Aussie skipper knows a team of 12 that they will tweak ahead of the first ball being bowled, but wasn’t inclined to reveal any secrets.
Having struggled in the initial stages of their test match against India earlier in the summer, Lanning is looking forward to different conditions, which can hopefully lead to a better result for her team.
“Conditions are a fair bit different over here. We feel like if we can get ourselves into a good position then that’ll help,” Lanning said.
“England has shown they can adjust and are good at this format – we took a while to adjust to the conditions in the Gold Coast, so the team who is able to do that first can get ahead earlier on in this game.”
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