Anna Lanning hopes to make the most of her unexpected Big Bash opportunity as the Melbourne Renegades seek a place among the top four.
With the start of the final week of the regular season, the Renegades are in fifth place, two points behind fourth-placed Sydney Sixers.
They still have three games to go, starting with one of the toughest teams of the season against Brisbane Heat at Allan Border Field.
Lanning missed out on a Renegades contract this year, but was made a substitute for injury after Claire Koski suffered a shoulder injury at the end of the season.
The 25-year-old sister of Australian captain Meg finally had the chance to play against the stars on Saturday – for the first time after a Renegades contract last summer without a game.
She replaced Sophie Molineux, who retired from the game to focus on her sanity and immediately impressed her old crew. It smashed 73 out of 49 deliveries in their highest WBBL rating.
“I was very nervous in the first round,” admitted Lanning, who plays for State Meteor’s ACT Meteors after Saturday’s game in which the bottom stars angered their local rivals.
“I worked hard (but) I was quite resigned to the fact that I would not play Big Bash this year. “I have just prepared for the back half of (over 50 years old) WNCL. “I’m pretty happy, but disappointed that we did not win.”
After the shock loss on Saturday, the Renegades must win every possible match to get the chance to reach the final.
A defeat by the Heat on Tuesday would not destroy their hopes for progress, but they would rely on the Sixers dropping at least one of their remaining games while the net run rate could also come into play.
“We know we have to keep winning, so it’s a great starting place,” said Renegades coach Tim Coyle.
“We managed to make Ballarat disappointed (because we lost against the stars) but there is a strong determination in the locker room to correct the wrong ones and get back on the winner list.”
“In some ways, we have much more to do because they qualified for the finals and we did not.” The Renegades and Heat met in Melbourne last Wednesday as the Heat entered a tight six-run win.
“I thought that was a game we let loose, I really thought we should have won,” Coyle said. “We had a really good start with the bat and fell over hunting for a really good overall score.” In the meantime, Coyle was full of praise for Lanning’s debut.
“It just shows that if you think about it and believe in yourself, you can take this opportunity and it can happen,” said Coyle.
“I’m very happy for her, it was a tough year for her last year, she was in the squad all year and did not play a game, that’s not easy, but she was close.
“Anna has the opportunity to publish some numbers in the next few games, which would be great for her.”
The Heat and Renegades will compete against each other on Wednesday at 13:10 local time (14:10 AEDT) at Allan Border Field. A free live stream is available on cricket.com.au, the CA Live app, and the WBBL Facebook page. or via Kayo.