Molineux's return to be managed ahead of World Cup
Skipper Meg Lanning delighted to have Victorian teammate Sophie Molineux back playing after a break for mental health reasons
11 January 2020, 10:06 AM AEST
Sophie Molineux’s return to elite cricket will continue be carefully managed, Australia captain Meg Lanning says, following the young allrounder’s state cricket comeback.
Molineux, who stepped away from the game during the Rebel WBBL in mid-November to focus on her mental health, played both of Victoria’s 50-over Women’s National Cricket League matches against Western Australia at Junction Oval last week.
The Bairnsdale product is considered one of the brightest young talents in Australian cricket and has become a key cog in the national set-up since debuting for her country in early 2018, helping her team take out the T20 World Cup in the Caribbean later the same year before starring in her maiden Test appearance last July.
Australia’s squad for the upcoming T20 World Cup on home soil will be named in the coming week, but Lanning – also Molineux’s skipper at Victoria – said the 21-year-old’s welfare was paramount and there would be no rushing the spinner back before she was ready.
"She’s got to be ready, and playing a bit of WNCL is very different to playing in a World Cup in terms of pressure and expectation," Lanning said following Victoria’s 25-run defeat to WA on Thursday.
"She’s got a process she’s working through to get back playing cricket, so it was great she was available for us (for these games).
"We’ll keep working with her around what that (process) looks like, but she’s certainly a great player and someone you want in your team.
"It’s important she’s comfortable with what’s going on. There’s a process she’ll go through to make sure she’s ready to step back (to international cricket) … whether that’s for World Cup I’m not sure.
“But Sophie’s got a long career ahead of her so whenever that is, we’ll certainly be happy to have her back."
For her Victorian teammates, it was simply pleasing to see the spin-bowling allrounder back in the navy blue last week.
On Tuesday, Molineux struck a fine 47 in her comeback game before collecting 2-22 from seven overs with the ball – including the key wicket of New Zealand star Sophie Devine – before backing up with another strong display with the ball in Thursday’s second game, taking 2-40 from her 10.
"She’s fitted back in pretty seamlessly with both bat and ball and she seems really happy," Lanning said.
"To have her enjoying her cricket and enjoying herself is the most important thing."
Last year was a difficult one for the Victorian, who underwent shoulder surgery in March after dislocating the joint in a state training mishap.
She returned in time to earn a Baggy Green for the one-off Ashes Test in Taunton and played a key role in helping Australia claim a dominant series win over their fiercest rivals.
But the need to continue rehabilitating the joint meant she was forced to sit out limited-overs series against West Indies and Sri Lanka in September and October, only returning to the field for the start of the Renegades’ WBBL campaign.
Molineux’s replacement in the Australian team, experienced allrounder Erin Burns, suffered an injury set-back of her own last week, undergoing arthroscopic surgery to remove a small bone fragment in her knee.
The 31-year-old is expected to be fit in time for New South Wales’ next round of WNCL matches and, if selected, in time to link up with the Australian squad later this month for the CommBank T20 tri-series against England and India that will serve as World Cup preparation.
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