The pain of missing out on her team’s most recent Ashes campaign still nags away at Meg Lanning, making the Australian captain hungrier than ever ahead of her team’s upcoming tour of the United Kingdom.
Lanning was sidelined for the 2017 Ashes on Australian soil after undergoing major shoulder surgery, forcing the star batter to watch on as her team retained the coveted trophy under the leadership of Rachael Haynes.
It also meant the right-hander missed out on a rare opportunity to play a Test – a chance that comes up just once every two years for the Australian women.
"I was really jealous sitting on the sidelines during that last series, it's a really great thing to be a part of," Lanning told cricket.com.au.
Preparing for the one-off Test match is arguably the toughest part of a women’s Ashes campaign, given the scarcity of red-ball cricket.
No woman has scored more ODIs tons than Lanning, but the Australian skipper has yet to pass fifty in her three Test matches to date, her high score of 48 coming on debut at Wormsley in 2013.
The Australian players will take their first look at the red ball during a training camp at Brisbane’s Bupa National Cricket Centre this month, while they’ll also have a three-day warm-up game in the UK ahead of the Test in Taunton beginning July 18.
"We want to play good cricket no matter what format it is and it is harder in Test matches because we just don’t play it enough to really understand what our strengths and weaknesses are," Lanning said.
"But at the end of the day, I think as long as we stick to the style of play that has treated us well (in all formats) over the last 18 months, that's the best way to approach it.
"I don't think you can change too much. We still want to play a good brand of cricket and continue to move the game forward as much as we can.
"I think the best way to do that is to play naturally."
Lanning, one of the world’s best batters, is working on ensuring her game is watertight and stronger than ever ahead of the first ODI in Leicester on July 2.
"For me it’s about continuing to open up scoring areas," she said.
"A lot of our focus is mostly that everyone's trying to improve their game and trying to be able to score all around the ground.
"There's no specific shot, but it’s about identifying areas of the ground where I don't hit as much.
"I’m probably more dominant to the offside so it’s just trying to develop that onside stuff and be able to hit powerfully straight, I think it’s really important in our game to be able to do that, so they're probably the two areas that are important to me.
"It’s quite fun to be honest, just a bit of experimenting which is good. You don't get to do that too much."
Lanning was a standout in Australia’s triumphant campaign in 2015, where they won back the Ashes on English soil for the first time since 2001.
Her individual highlights included scoring 104 and 85 to give her team the upper hand early in the series, while the trophy was sealed when Australia successfully defended 7-107 in the penultimate T20I in Hove.
"That game at Hove, where we actually won the Ashes, nobody could think could happen, that’s one of the best game’s I've been a part of,” she said.
"It just sort of showed that we had as a group and the special nature of it.
"Hopefully we won’t be defending 107 again this time, but games against England are always really exciting and a good contest."
CommBank Ashes Tour of England
First ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 2
Second ODI Grace Road, Leicester, July 4
Third ODI St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury, July 7
First T20 County Ground, Chelmsford, July 26
Second T20 The County Ground, Hove, July 28
Third T20 Bristol County Ground, Bristol, July 31
A Test victory is worth four points (two each for a draw), two points are awarded for ODI and T20 wins