Australia captain Meg Lanning has been ruled out of the women’s Ashes due to medical issues in a major blow for the team’s defence of the urn. Lanning only returned to cricket in January following a four-month mental health break, but led Australia to the women’s Twenty20 World Cup triumph in March. The 31-year-old played in the inaugural Women’s Premier League in India, but will now be unavailable for the blockbuster UK tour. Lanning was withdrawn from the squad on the advice of medical staff, according to Cricket Australia women’s cricket performance boss Shawn Flegler. “It’s an unfortunate setback for Meg and she’s obviously disappointed to have been ruled out of the Ashes; it’s a significant series for the team and she’ll be missed, but she understands the need to put her health first,” Flegler said. “Meg will remain at home where she will continue to work with medical staff with the aim to return to playing as soon as possible. We ask that Meg’s privacy is respected at this time.” One of the all-time greats of women’s cricket, Lanning has scored 17 international centuries and led Australia on an unbelievable run of success. She has been on two winning ODI World Cup squads (2013 and 2022) and five successful World T20 squads 2012, ‘14, ‘18, ‘20 and ‘23). During her break from the game last year, the star batter spoke of needing to speak to others and spent time overseas. Dashing wicketkeeper-batter Alyssa Healy will step up to captain Australia in the Ashes, with allrounder Tahlia McGrath to be vice-captain. Lanning will not be replaced in the squad due to the Australia A tour in the UK, with players readily available to come in for the Ashes if needed. Subscribe to our cricket newsletter for our writers’ thoughts on the biggest stories and a review of the week’s action The one-off women’s Test gets underway in Nottingham on June 22, with three T20s and three ODIs to follow in the multi-format series. Australia have retained the Ashes during the last four series, with Lanning’s team failing to lose a game during the last contest in 2021-22.