CRICKET: Southern Stars captain Meg Lanning expects the upcoming World Cup in England to be "very open” but says her side is "well-balanced” for its attempt at a title defence.
The Australian women's side, which is on the Sunshine Coast for a week-long camp, boasts the number one ranking and has already won the global event a record six times.
But Lanning believes there will be some tough competition, when this year's edition gets under way late next month.
"I think it's going to be a very open World Cup. There's four or five teams who are definitely going to be right up there and every game is going to be really competitive,” she said.
Still, there's high hopes for the Australian team and that's something Lanning doesn't shy away from.
"I think there's always pressure to perform at big tournaments,” she said.
"We've got high expectations on ourselves to do well.
"We're we're all looking forward to what's going to be a really good challenge but it's going to be exciting as well.”
The Southern Stars spent a week training in Brisbane before shifting its base to the Sunshine Coast for intra-squad matches at Buderim.
"We're looking forward to finishing off our preparation (for the Cup) with another good week up here,” the 25-year-old said.
"It's a good chance for everyone to get out in the middle, get used to match situations a little bit more and hopefully everyone can get some confidence. If we can do that we'll be pretty happy.
"Everyone's really excited. There's some new players who have come into the squad who have enthusiasm. Everyone's in a good space at the moment.”
"I think the squad we've got has a really nice balance of skills and hopefully that will hold us in good stead once the tournament comes along.”
Lanning is looking forward to captaining the side.
"I think the team's in a good spot and making it very easy to do my job,” she said.
"You always want to perform well in big tournaments so I feel like my preparation has been really good so it's just about now performing under pressure and I'm looking forward to hopefully doing that.”
Mayor Mark Jamieson said it was a pleasure to welcome the team to the Coast and said cricket was an important part of sport mix in the region.
"Our council is focussed on providing developmental pathways for local and first-class cricket opportunities,” he said in a press release.
"This year the Sunshine Coast will host the under-17 men's national championships for the third straight year and expect to again have a number of state teams visit us for pre-season camps - as they have done for many years now.
"This is of course coming off the back of a highly successful Big Bash pre-season campaign held at Elizabeth Daniels Sports Complex in December where the Heat took on the Hurricanes in two practice matches.
"Council has recently invested in venue upgrades and we are investigating further upgrades to develop the Elizabeth Daniels Sports Complex into a higher level Cricket Australia-accredited facility.
"These facility upgrades represent a long-term investment in cricket on the Coast, including local clubs who use the venues throughout the cricket season.”
SQUAD: Sarah Aley NSW Kristen Beams VIC Alex Blackwell NSW Nicole Bolton WA Ashleigh Gardner NSW Rachael Haynes NSW Alyssa Healy NSW Jess Jonassen QLD Meg Lanning VIC Beth Mooney QLD Ellyse Perry NSW Megan Schutt SA Belinda Vakarewa NSW Elyse Villani WA Amanda-Jade Wellington SA Australia will begin their quest for a record seventh World Cup on 26 June against the West Indies at The County Ground, Taunton.
SCHEDULE: June 26: Australia v West Indies, Taunton June 29: Australia v Sri Lanka, Bristol July 2: Australia v New Zealand, Bristol July 5: Australia v Pakistan, Leicester July 9: Australia v England, Bristol July 12: Australia v India, Bristol July 15: Australia v South Africa, Taunton July 18: First semi-final, Bristol July 20: Second semi-final, Derby July 23: Final, Lord's.
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