Sir Warnie, Dame Ash and Dame Meg?
Not quite: Ash Barty and the late Shane Warne have each received due vice regal garlands as Order of Australia recipients in the Queen’s Birthday Honours, alongside Meg Lanning for leading the world champion women’s cricket team.
Warne, who a decade ago pondered in a London Telegraph column why he was the only one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the 20th century – Sir Donald Bradman, Sir Garfield Sobers, Sir Jack Hobbs and Sir Viv Richards – not to be knighted, did not receive any such honours during his 52 years. But this posthumous citation for Warne noted his distinguished service to cricket as a player, role model and commentator, to the community through charitable initiatives, and for philanthropic contributions.
Barty, also made an officer of the Order of Australia, was credited with distinguished service to tennis at the elite level, and to youth development programs.
Lanning was made a member of the Order of Australia, mirroring the honour afforded Belinda Clark when she too was captain of the national women’s team in 2000. Clark was later elevated to an officer of the Order of Australia in 2018 to recognise her subsequent work in administration.
Reflecting on the enormous achievements that have earned her such recognition, Lanning told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald that she had seen how the team’s following had grown and evolved over a period in which she’s been part of multiple World Cup wins, most recently in New Zealand earlier this year.
Particularly the last few years, the thing that has hit me the most is when we’re playing and there’s some young people watching us, it’s boys and girls now, not just young girls, Lanning said. The fact we’re able to have an impact on everyone and trying to inspire them to get involved in the game I think is really important.
The good thing is that young kids out there now just see it as cricket, rather than women’s cricket and men’s cricket – it’s just sport, and playing as a team and getting out there and enjoying yourself. That’s something that hopefully can continue to happen in society and we get that younger generation coming through.
Now there’s such great opportunity for young people to be involved in sport. I played a lot with the boys growing up, which I loved, and I’m very glad that I did, but now young girls can play with the boys or they can play in girls’ teams, and boys are the same. So it’s really integrated now, and everyone going out there playing as friends and working together as a team, hopefully that can help them to stay involved in the game.
Barty, who crowned her tennis career by lifting the Australian Open trophy in Melbourne this year, and then stunned the world by electing to retire from the sport, said she was committed to continuing the fight to provide sporting and education opportunities for all.
I’m honoured to receive an Order of Australia, Barty said. There are so many Australian people who do wonderful things for our country and I want to congratulate all of the other award recipients on being recognised for their contributions. I’m a very proud Australian and representing my country to the best of my ability has always been my priority.
On a personal level, I always try to uphold Australian values – being humble, respectful, kind and caring for others. I hope to continue my contribution to our country, focusing on providing youth with sport and education opportunities and inspiring all young kids to go after their dreams.
Other sporting recipients, all made members of the Order of Australia, included the former world boxing champion Johnny Famechon, Australia’s one and only Masters golf champion, Adam Scott, the singular cricketing talent of Doug Walters, Winter Olympics skiing gold medallist Jakara Anthony, and Iryna Dvoskina, who has coached both the Australian and Ukrainian Paralympic teams.
Asked what it felt like to be so recognised in the same year as Warne and Barty, Lanning was humbled but also satisfied by the thought that her team’s cricketing achievements were also serving a wider purpose.
I’m not sure I’m quite in the same league as those two greats, Lanning said. We’ve been remembering Warnie over the last few months since his sad passing.
I feel very lucky to be in the position to have a small impact on society, and especially the young girls and boys growing up, and hopefully be a good role model for them to follow in the footsteps.
The great thing now is there is that platform and they can see their heroes playing on TV and see them after the game and get an autograph, and that’s the really exciting part of it. I love playing the game, but there’s that other side of it in terms of being someone kids aspire to be. That’s something I take very seriously.
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