Australian captain Meg Lanning will return to the Melbourne Stars for the next WBBL season after three years with the Perth Scorchers.
The move had been expected for some time, but the contractual embargo for the tournament was only lifted last Friday due to the season hiatus with Covid-19.
Lanning previously played for the Stars in the first two editions of the WBBL, where she scored 1,062 points and was the team’s top scorer in both campaigns. She then missed her first season with the Scorchers with a shoulder injury before scoring 920 points in her next two competitions.
As the move brings her back to her home state – she also plays for Victoria in the National Women’s Cricket League – Lanning spoke of the possibility of working with a group of young players and new coach Trent Woodhill as a key factor.
“His knowledge of the T20 game and having worked with so many great players and different franchises in different tournaments is a great experience,” said Lanning. “So I can’t wait to work with him and see what his philosophy is on T20 cricket in particular.
“I want to thank everyone in Perth for their support during my stay there, but it’s great to be back in Melbourne.
“I’m proud to have been a part of the first two years with the Melbourne Stars and look forward to reinvesting myself in the club. We have an exciting group, and I look forward to starting working with them, players and staff coaches.
The Stars finished at the bottom of the table last season with just two wins in 14 appearances and are the only team to never reach the WBBL Final Series.
“Meg’s comeback to the Stars is huge, it’s almost like starting over,” said Woodhill. “This is the opportunity for the Stars to reset. We won’t be putting too much pressure on Meg to be the star of the show, but we do know that Meg is a star of world cricket.
“We want to be able to provide her with an environment in which she can thrive and bring out the best of herself while having as much fun as possible through success and establishing a winning culture.
The WBBL is scheduled to start on October 17 with the final on November 29. Lanning won’t have the chance to play at home in Melbourne until the end of the Championship phase, with the season centered around a three-week Sydney hub after opening two weekends in Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide, and Tasmania.
Part of the reasoning behind this was to give the tournament additional flexibility if Covid-19 required a change in the schedule, and it also helped get an increase in broadcast matches.