Waking up on the morning of the fifth and final women’s one-day international against South Africa in Coffs Harbour in November, Australia’s captain, Meg Lanning, is feeling well-prepared for the day ahead.
The 24-year-old Victorian has been dubbed the best female player in the world and was picked in the 2016 team of the year.
What’s more, it’s been under her helm that Australia has topped the ranking as the number one international women’s cricket side.
Lanning’s matter-of-fact approach to the sport she’s loved since childhood, has earned her the respect of teammates and fans alike.
On November 29, 2016, she sat down to her usual matchday breakfast of smashed avocado with poached eggs and two piccolos.
It is after fuelling her body that Lanning begins to mentally prepare for the game ahead.
Arriving at the ground early is important for Lanning and she doesn’t waste time once she is there.
Her warm-up consists of dynamic stretching, fielding and skills practice.
It’s lengthy and extensive but designed to get Lanning cherry ripe come game time.
She normally opens the batting for Australia, but her side lead the series 3-0 and that means emerging star Beth Mooney is elevated up the order.
Lanning instead slots into the number three position, a change that won’t allow her to fulfil her usual pre-game superstition.
Not that she is fussed – Lanning is extremely relaxed on match day.
“I don’t have a specific pre-game ritual, but I do walk out on the right side of my fellow opener when I am opening the batting,” she said.
Lanning calls the women together shortly before the 2.20pm start and delivers her final message to the team.
“We talked about the key points we’ve discussed about the game,” she said.
Hours had been previously dedicated to analysing the opposition and creating a strategy to win the series.
Today, with the series won, the focus was on the young guns taking their opportunities and building consistency in form.
Lanning’s record-breaking career
It’s Lanning’s form that has turned heads since she made her domestic debut for Victoria in 2008 at the age of just 16.
Lanning produced a record-breaking season in 2012-13 at international, domestic and club level, scoring the fastest 50 and fastest 100 in a ODI by an Australian female cricketer.
Her international form has been outstanding for some time, with no woman hitting more one-day international centuries than the 24-year-old’s nine.
Those centuries have come from just 54 matches.
England’s Charlotte Edwards, the other player with nine, has played 191.
Lanning is also a star at domestic level, and hit 190, including 27 fours and one six, for Victoria in October 2016.
Those long innings require outstanding powers of concentration. So, how does she do it?
“It’s all about concentrating when the ball is being bowled, but trying and switch off in between,” she said.
It is no easy feat when her role is also to lead her side and keep energy levels high.
There was no century for Lanning in Coffs Harbour, scoring 42, but she was thrilled with her team’s performance as they beat South Africa again.
The post-match formalities included a cool down of stretching and ice baths, before a celebratory dinner of carbohydrate-packed pasta.
Lanning enjoys victories – but it didn’t take her long to shift her focus to the upcoming Twenty20 series against New Zealand.
And, never far from her thoughts is the task of defending the ICC Women’s World Cup in June 2017.
But for now, the key for her – and any cricketer – to get the best out of themselves this summer is to: “just keep enjoying what you do”, she concluded. Simple.