Australia had an unmatchable run through the league stage, barely going close to a loss in a World Cup full of close finishes. After a one-sided semi-final against West Indies, they were mostly ahead of England while defending a massive 356 in the final on Sunday and eventually won by 71 runs to lift the trophy, for the first time since 2013.
“I think we have been extremely consistent over a long period of time, it’s been a massive build-up to this tournament,” Lanning said at the post-match presentation. “It’s been a long time coming. We felt like we have waited a hell of a long time. To come out and perform so well through the tournament, to be honest, it’s pretty amazing and I think we deserved a victory today.”
Australia were especially dominant with the bat. Healy flattened England with a career-best 170, off just 138 balls, and along with Rachael Haynes compiled another century stand. The duo also led the run charts for the tournament.
“Healy’s knock was incredible,” Lanning said. “To do it in a World Cup final, I am probably not surprised, to be fair she’s done it before as well. To be able to come out and play so well, to play those shots she was playing was ridiculous and just to put the bowlers under pressure at the back-end was really important and she set the base really nice. We’ve spoken as a batting group about being patient upfront and building a partnership to get to explode at the back-end, and that’s what happened today.”
Lanning was full of praise for her younger team-mates as well, especially legspinner Alana King and fast bowler Darcie Brown. King made her ODI debut only two months ago and was the second-highest wicket-taker for Australia with a tally of 12, just behind Jess Jonassen’s 13, whereas Brown’s speed gave Australia’s attack another dimension to add to Megan Schutt’s swing early on. Brown played six of Australia’s nine games for six wickets.
“We came over with a squad mentality, we knew we had to have a number of different people contributing, which we’ve had throughout the tournament and it’s just been so great to see the team evolve over the tournament,” Lanning said. “We’ve had some young players come in and perform really well and make an impact straightaway which has been great for the team and for the more experienced players to keep pushing them to get better. Off the field, we’ve had great support from coaching staff to get us to this point as well.
“Tay [Tayla Vlaeminck), Wolf [Georgia Wareham] and Soph [Sophie Molineux], big shoutout to you guys,” Lanning said of the three injured players who were back home. “There’s some good depth within our squad, we’ve seen Alana King and Darcie Brown come in and dominate and really lift the team, to be honest. It’s important to have some depth there. Injuries are unfortunately part of the sport and we’ve been able to cover that this time around.”
Lanning said she was nervous almost throughout the final, particularly when Nat Sciver scored another century in the chase – just like in the league stage – although she ran out of partners in the end.
“I was [nervous] the whole way through (laughs), especially when Nat Sciver went there,” Lanning said. “She’s an incredible player, played a really special innings today and would have been a match-winning one on any other day. We know England would come hard at us, we expected a contest today and got one.”
England captain Heather Knight, the runners-up this time, showered praise on Sciver as well but said her team needed to learn from the way Australia build big partnerships to take the game away from oppositions.
“I guess we didn’t quite find and answer [to Australia’s batting],” Knight said. “It was an amazing wicket, and if we had kept them to just about 300, probably par, we were in with a good chance of chasing it down.
“Remarkable, absolutely unbelievable from Nat. The skill against spin, against seam, scoring all around the ground and unfortunately we couldn’t have someone stay with her. With the runs on the board we had to take a few more risks and unfortunately we couldn’t have a big partnership, something Australia do outstandingly and we can learn from how they have that big partnership in a ruthless way and they really take the game away from the opposition.”
Knight was still “super proud” of her team for turning their campaign around in dramatic fashion after starting the tournament with three straight losses, before they won five on the trot, including the semi-final against South Africa.
“Massively, super proud of the group, given how we managed to turn things around,” she said. “The fact that we’ve shown that character and resilience to turn it around and be within a shot of winning the World Cup. Unfortunately, one win was too many for us.”
Vishal Dikshit is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo