Australian cricket legend Meg Lanning would prefer to see women’s Test matches scrapped altogether than continue to have them scheduled sporadically.
The longest format of the game is much rarer in the women’s international arena than in the men’s; only 12 Tests have been played worldwide across the last decade.
Each featured combinations of Australia, England, India and South Africa, with other nations reluctant to prioritise Tests over white-ball matches given the financial challenges of the former and rising popularity of the latter.
New Zealand, West Indies and Pakistan have all been absent from the Test arena since 2004 but even the sides that have participated more recently have only done so in one-off matches.
In December, the unfamiliarity of the format was laid bare for the all-conquering Australian women’s team, which was thrashed by eight wickets in a standalone match against India in Mumbai.
The Australian women’s side will host South Africa for a Test at the WACA Ground in mid-February to round out the Proteas’ multi-format tour.
It will be Australia’s third Test in the past 12 months but Lanning still feels the product will suffer if Tests are only scheduled as an afterthought to white-ball series.
The former Australia captain retired from international cricket in November having made 241 appearances for her country but only six of those came in Test matches.
“It’s really difficult to prepare for a Test match,” said Lanning.
“In my career, we were playing once every two years. It takes us two days to work out how to play it again, and then the Test is over.
“If you really want the games to be a good contest and more nations to play and players to understand the game a little bit more, I think we probably need to play more.
“Or you go the other way and you don’t play any at all and you focus on the short format stuff.”
Lanning’s comments came after new Australia captain Alyssa Healy called for three-match Test series to be introduced into the women’s game after the loss to India.
Cricket Australia chief executive Nick Hockley later said he was a “strong advocate” for more women’s Tests to be played.
The last time any sides met for a Test series was when England hosted India for two matches in 2006, but not since 1998 has a three-Test series been played.
All but one of Lanning’s Test matches were played against England but the 31-year-old has been heartened to see South Africa and India keener to participate in recent years.
“That’s great if that means there can be more Tests in the calendar, I think that’ll happen over time,” she said.
“But that’s where I sit on it. It’s either more or you sort of don’t go there at all because I think once every so often is pretty difficult as a player.”
Cricket Australia will officially pay tribute to Lanning’s career during the ODI series opener against South Africa at Adelaide Oval, where former vice-captain Rachael Haynes will also be honoured.
Lanning continues to play cricket domestically and will line up for the Delhi Capitals in the Women’s Premier League that begins later this month.
She said her international retirement had not yet hit home.
“Until I probably stop completely, it probably won’t sink in,” she said.
“It’s obviously been a different last couple of months, a little bit more time and little bit more quiet to spend with friends and family and sort of take stock a little bit. I’ve enjoyed that.”