Veteran Haynes ready to again step up in Lanning's absence

Thunder skipper and Aussie deputy boasts a proven track record and a reputation as one of the game's shrewdest leaders, and looms the standout candidate to take on the national captaincy

Australia vice-captain Rachael Haynes says she is ready and willing to step up her leadership responsibilities with the national side in the absence of regular skipper Meg Lanning.

Haynes, a veteran of 167 internationals over 13 years, has skippered her country in 14 matches across the three formats, notably leading the Aussies to an Ashes triumph in 2017 while Lanning was sidelined after shoulder surgery.

The Sydney Thunder captain, who re-signed with her WBBL club on Wednesday, looms as the standout choice to again fill Lanning's shoes, given her track record as well as her ongoing status as one of the squad's key leadership figures.

"I've stepped into that role before when Meg's been injured and I'm current vice-captain so whoever the head coach is and whoever the national selectors think is the best person to do it (is up to them)," the 35-year-old said.

"I'm definitely open to doing it myself, or if there's another person who they think is better suited, then they'd have my full support as well.

"So that's not my decision – it's a few people who have to mark that off … I'm happy to do it moving forward, but that's not in my hands."

Australia boast a wealth of experience in their ranks with the likes of Haynes, Allyssa Healy, Ellyse Perry, Jess Jonassen, Beth Mooney and Megan Schutt all seasoned internationals, while in-form 26-year-old allrounder Tahlia McGrath has captaincy experience with Adelaide Strikers.

And while Lanning's decision to take some time away form the game and the exit earlier this year of long-time head coach Matthew Mott has put the team's leadership under a spotlight, the assured presence of interim head coach Shelley Nitschke as well as the continued success of the side has ensured it remains a relatively minor point of discussion.

Australia's next assignment is a five-match T20 tour of India in December, before which Haynes expects a full-time head coach to be appointed.

The left-hander is currently in the UK where she is representing the Welsh Fire in the women's Hundred competition, having also been a part of the Australia squad that won Commonwealth Games gold in Birmingham earlier this month.

"Our national team has a pretty significant break … there's plenty of time to have those (leadership) conversations once we get back (to Australia)," she said.

"A new head coach will get appointed as well so I think there's a few things to go through and I guess tick off before those conversations happen."

Amid only limited opportunities in the middle-order during the Games, Haynes failed to reach 20, but the veteran batter is unfazed by those returns.

"I'm hitting the ball really well, I've just been finding a way of getting out," she added. "But that's this format of the game – it's pretty unforgiving given that you've got to keep your foot on the accelerator at different times.

"We've got an opportunity over here (so I'm) looking forward to spending a little bit more time in the middle for the Welsh Fire and then hopefully I can just roll on heading into the Australian summer."

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