Meg Lanning has labelled Tayla Vlaeminck’s injury as a “massive” loss after the fast bowler was ruled out of the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup 2020.
Vlaeminck’s out-and-out pace has formed a major part of Australia’s arsenal since her debut against India in 2018, the side she was due to play in Friday’s tournament opener.
But a stress injury in her right foot means the 21-year-old misses out on the entire competition in front of her home support.
Off-spinner Molly Strano takes her place in the squad but, as Lanning herself knows, there’s no direct replacement for Vlaeminck’s key weapon.
"It's a massive loss and she is obviously pretty shattered with the timing of it,” said Lanning. “It was a little bit of a flat day on Wednesday finding out the news. She was set for a big role for us.
“I'm pretty devastated for her. I guess it provides an opportunity for Molly to come in and play a role for us. Unfortunately for Tay she won't get to compete, which is pretty devastating for her.
“There's no real like-for-like replacement for Tay, no one does what she does. Molly has bowled well in the powerplay in the past and can bowl at any time through the innings.
“It wasn't a specific incident. It just built up over a few days, it was a shock to us all.
“There is never a good time to get injured but to have done so much work coming into this tournament and to get ruled out just before, we're all feeling for her.”
While Australia can boast home advantage in Sydney, their experience of the Showground is limited despite playing a warm-up match at the ground last month.
Combine that with a strong Indian crowd that is expected and it may not be the familiar occasion that Lanning’s side had planned for.
Nevertheless the captain is ready for whatever comes their way, thrilled that the chance to play in front of a packed-out crowd is just a few hours away.
She added: “I guess there is a little bit of unknown about this ground so we start on a level pegging with India in that regard but I think for the good of the tournament, create a great atmosphere and get the crowds along it’s a really good move.
“We’ve known about it for a while and have been looking forward to playing out here. It’s a great stadium, hopefully the crowd comes and supports because that’s what it’s all about.
“We are expecting big crowd but also a lot of support for India. It’s just something we’ll have to get used to, at the end of the day you’ve just got to focus on what you do in the middle.
“Hopefully we can get off to a good start and make sure the Indian fans are a little bit quiet.”