'I Was In Denial': Why Cricketer Meg Lanning Took Early Retirement

Former Australia cricket captain Meg Lanning opened up about the challenges she faced leading up to her surprise retirement from international cricket last November at the age of 31.

Priya Prakash
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Former Australia cricket captain Meg Lanning, File Image

Former Australia cricket captain Meg Lanning opened up about the challenges she faced leading up to her surprise retirement from international cricket last November at the age of 31. In a candid interview with The Howie Games, Lanning revealed that she battled with "an unhealthy relationship" with exercise and food, which ultimately impacted her decision to step away from the sport.


Lanning took a six-month hiatus to focus on her mental health and even took up work at a coffee shop following her victory at the 2022 Commonwealth Games in Birmingham, where she secured a gold medal. Despite returning to cricket, she ultimately decided to retire after missing three international assignments, including the Ashes series in 2023, without disclosing her reasons at the time.

Lanning has now made a surprising revelation at The Howie Games podcast: "It sort of just spiralled, and I was in denial, even though everyone kept telling me something wasn't quite right. I was not in a place to be able to go on tour and play cricket and give the commitment levels required for that Ashes series, mentally and physically." She acknowledged that she was unable to meet the demands of international cricket both mentally and physically, leading to her withdrawal from the sport.

Meg Lanning Shares Reason Behind Cricket Retirement Decision

Lanning, known for her exceptional cricketing skills, took an extended break from the sport in 2022 and returned to lead Australia to victory in the Twenty 20 World Cup in February 2023. However, she withdrew from the Ashes series later that year due to undisclosed medical reasons. Behind the scenes, Lanning was dealing with an identity crisis and struggling with her physical and mental health, which remained hidden from even her closest friends and teammates.

She confessed to experiencing difficulties in maintaining a balanced diet and exercise routine, admitting to consuming only two "not significant" meals a day despite engaging in extensive physical activity. 

She added, "I got down to about 57kgs from 64kgs. The ratios were out of whack a lot. It was just all out of whack and I kept sliding. At some point, it’s got to stop. I felt very out of control in terms of what my future looked like: ‘If it’s not cricket, what does life look like if I am not playing?" Lanning acknowledged that her eating habits were not healthy but refrained from labelling them as an eating disorder, highlighting her denial about needing help.


As her health deteriorated, she found herself unable to sleep for more than a few hours each night, exacerbating her frustration and sense of helplessness, she explained, "I dreaded nighttime because I knew I would go to bed and not be able to sleep. That would make me so mad. I would just get more angry with myself. If you can’t sleep, you can’t do anything."

The Toll on Cricket Career

The toll of her personal struggles began to impact Lanning's performance on the cricket field, despite her continued success. She reflected on feeling like she was operating on autopilot, no longer able to fully commit to her role as captain of the Australian team and the demands of regular touring. Despite her remarkable achievements in cricket, including leading Australia to five T20 World Cup titles and earning three Belinda Clark Medals, Lanning made the difficult decision to retire from representing her country.

Moving Forward

While Lanning has chosen to step away from international cricket, she continues to play in domestic leagues such as the Women’s Big Bash League and the Women’s Premier League in India. She expressed gratitude for her cricketing journey and the opportunities it provided, acknowledging that it was time to explore life beyond the sport. Despite her retirement from international cricket, Lanning's legacy as one of Australia's most accomplished cricketers remains intact, with over 8,000 runs scored in 241 international matches.

In sharing her story, Lanning hopes to raise awareness about the importance of mental and physical well-being in professional sports and encourage others to seek help when needed. Her candidness regarding her struggles underscores the reality that even the most accomplished individuals can experience the repercussions of overburdening themselves. While ambition and hard work are often celebrated virtues, it's crucial to recognise that maintaining a balance between professional and personal commitments is essential for sustained success. Learning to prioritise this equilibrium early on can significantly prolong one's career trajectory.

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