Melbourne Stars skipper Elyse Villani has admitted she won’t be afraid of dropping the odd cheeky hint to Australian teammate and good friend Meg Lanning about a potential return to the club next Rebel WBBL season.
Lanning’s three-year deal with the Perth Scorchers is up at the end of WBBL|05 and the Australian captain is sure to have no shortage of suitors.
The 27-year-old captained the Melbourne club in the first two Big Bash seasons before making the move west, where she played alongside fellow Victorian Villani for two years before the latter signed with the Stars for WBBL|05.
Lanning was the Stars' – and the league’s – leading run scorer across both of those campaigns, but the club failed to make the finals, a feat they still have not achieved.
"I think there’s eight clubs who are looking in their salary cap and seeing if they can fit Meg Lanning," Villani said on Friday.
"That’s not really my job in terms of recruiting … but I have no doubt the Stars will be looking to recruit well over the off-season.
"A couple of players into your team can make a real difference.
"We’ve probably lacked a bit of experience there as well, we’ve got some incredible young talented players coming through ... but we’d probably like to add a couple of experienced players into the mix next season as well."
The Stars sit on the bottom of the table with two matches remaining in the regular season and while their bowling, rather than their batting, has been the weaker of their two disciplines – in part due to an inexperienced squad alongside injuries – a player of Lanning’s caliber would be an instant lift on and off the field.
While the Australian captain will be in hot demand, Villani does have one ace up her sleeve – her close friendship with Lanning.
"Meg and I are very close, I do drop (a hint) in there every now and then, asking ‘when’s your contract up with the Scorchers?’, those sorts of hard-hitting questions over a coffee," Villani laughed.
"We’re very tight but at the same time, Meg and I are very close regardless of cricket so while I’d love to play with her, I support her decision no matter what she decides at the end of the season.
"But obviously I’ll be having conversations with her and seeing if we can get her over the line."
Lanning has been asked about her future repeatedly through the course of this season but remains adamant she will not be making any decisions until the Scorchers’ campaign has finished.
They sit third on the table and are 99.5% likely to remain in the top four, in what would be Lanning’s first taste of Big Bash finals.
"I haven’t given it too much thought, to be honest," Lanning said earlier this month.
"Once we get to the end of the competition, I’ll have a sit and think about what I’m going to do but I am really enjoying my time with Perth."
Despite winning just two of their first 12 games, Villani does not think her Stars group is that far off the pace.
"We’d like to be the reverse end of the table than what we’re at now, but we’ve lost some really close games and we’ve seen how even the competition is," Villani said.
"I think the table has us below what we’re displayed as a team and I’m proud of the effort the girls have been putting in … we’d like to finish the season really well with two wins.
"I think we’ve had confidence in our ability as a team all season."