Lanning ruled out, Haynes to captain

Star batter ordered to rest shoulder injury with an eye to the business end of the tournament

Australia captain Meg Lanning has been ruled out of today’s Women’s World Cup clash with Pakistan, with Rachael Haynes called into the XI as stand-in skipper.

Lanning will miss the group match in Leicester after aggravating a chronic right shoulder injury, which the world No.1 batter has been managing.

It is hoped the 25-year-old will return for Australia’s showdown with hosts England, to be played in Bristol on Sunday.

Haynes is yet to play a game this World Cup and only returned to the Australian squad in February following a three-and-a-half-year absence, with the 30-year-old handed captaincy duties ahead of experienced vice-captain Alex Blackwell to become Australia’s 17th ODI captain.

"Meg has been undergoing rehabilitation on her right shoulder, following a chronic injury." Australian team physiotherapist Kate Mahony said.

"The decision for Meg to miss today's match will enable her to focus on some rehabilitation and we’ll continue to monitor her ahead of taking part in any further matches in the tournament."

Injury ruled Lanning out of the inaugural season of the England women’s T20 league last year, while she has been batting with a shoulder brace throughout this tournament in England.

However, this is the first time the problem has kept the Australian captain out of an international match. The last time Lanning missed an ODI for her country was in January 2012, while she missed a T20I against Sri Lanka due to illness last September.

Despite the injury, Lanning has been in fine form during Australia's World Cup title defence, posting scores of 12, 152no and 48 in three matches to date.

But with a hectic group stage that sees Australia play seven matches in the space of 20 days – with hopefully a semi-final and final to follow – ensuring the Southern Stars’ greatest weapon with the bat is available for the business stage of the tournament is the highest priority for the No.1 ranked Australians.

Haynes returns with fine fifty

Haynes’ hiatus from international cricket ended in February when she was a last-minute call-up to the Australian ODI squad as injury cover for Blackwell.

She impressed in her sole one-day appearance since that recall, scoring fifty against New Zealand in Auckland, with her composed return enough to earn a 2017-18 contract offer. 

It’s that unflappable demeanor that earned Haynes, who has played three Tests, 34 ODIs and 27 T20s for Australia, her first shot at international captaincy.

But the NSW batter does have previous leadership experience at state level, leading Victoria to two titles in the Australian Women’s T20 Cup – the predecessor to the Big Bash – in 2009-10 and 2010-11 before her relocation to the Breakers for the 2011-12 summer.

“Rachael has a wealth of leadership experience including successfully guiding Victoria to back-to-back national Twenty20 titles and alongside Alex, will ensure the team is led to continue their current form,” Australian selector Shawn Flegler said.

"We know that Rachel is capable of coming in and doing the job that is asked of her as she demonstrated in New Zealand earlier this year when she scored a half-century after a lengthy absence from the national side."

It's an unusual situation when a player comes in from outside the XI to captain. Last year, England recalled spinner Danielle Hazell for her first ODI in more than six months to stand in for injured captain Heather Knight.

Australia have won all three of their group matches to date and a victory over seventh-ranked Pakistan on Thursday will move them a step closer to qualifying for the semi-finals, with three tough matches against England, India and South Africa still to come.

The match will be broadcast live from 7.30pm AEST on Fox Sports, live streamed on 9Now and can be heard on ABC Grandstand.

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Australia World Cup squad: Sarah Aley, Kristen Beams, Alex Blackwell (vc), Nicole Bolton, Ashleigh Gardner, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen, Meg Lanning (c), Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Belinda Vakarewa, Elyse Villani, Amanda-Jade Wellington.

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