Ellyse Perry scales final frontier with dominant WBBL batting form | Lisa Sthalekar

The Australian has raised the bar and set a new standard during a record-breaking season

One might forgive Ellyse Perry if she were content with what she has already achieved in her career, all before the age of 30. She is a World Cup winner, not once but five times. She has represented Australia not only in cricket but football too, and won countless domestic titles with the NSW Breakers and Sydney Sixers. Then there are the individual awards, such as the Belinda Clark medal at both state and national level, marking her out as one of the top female players in the world.

However there has been a small blot on her otherwise impeccable copy book: in the shortest format of the game, Twenty20 cricket. The 28-year-old has been part of the Australian set up at T20 World Cups and is one of the few players to have played in every edition of the competition that began in 2009. Her role within the side has been to bowl her pace, be one of the best fielders and occasionally bash a few late runs.

But Perry hasn’t been able to stamp her authority with the bat on T20 cricket in the same way she has in other formats of the game. Until now, that is. Few cricketers have been able to master all formats, yet remarkably since her return from Australia’s successful Women’s World T20 in the West Indies last year, Perry has managed to take her T20 game to another level and delivered the most dominant individual season in Women’s Big Bash League history.

At November’s tournament in the Caribbean, where Australia raised the trophy for an unprecedented fourth time, Perry hardly had the opportunity to impress with the bat but played an important role with the ball, picking up the second most number of wickets for her side with nine at an impressive economy rate of 5.56.

Batting as low as No 7, some were left scratching their heads and wondering why she was so far down the order, given her 552 runs in last editions of the WBBL. The key factor was that Perry’s strike rate was a below-par 98, whereas her top order teammates were all up above 120. Australia’s style is to go hard at the top of the order and, while Perry’s ability with the bat cannot be questioned, her services weren’t really required.

Within a matter of days of arriving back from Antigua, she was leading the Sixers again in her accustomed position at the top of the order. She came out and went “bang, bang” in the first six matches, scoring two tons and three half centuries. The amount of runs was impressive but it was how quickly she compiled them that made people stand up and take notice: 419 runs at a jaw-dropping strike rate of 142.

No doubt she had been working hard on her batting for a number of years, but all of a sudden a switch had been flicked; she was now pulverising bowlers a little earlier in her innings and racking up records in doing so. So far this season, she has broken the record for the amount of runs in a season – the previous best was Meg Lanning with 560 runs; Perry is already on 690 runs at a Bradman-esque average of 86 with potentially two more matches to play – and she has also become the first player (male or female) to score 2,000 Big Bash runs.

Ellyse Perry is the first player to score 2,000 Big Bash League runs.

0-500 runs – 523 balls faced (SR 95.60)
500-1000 runs – 484 balls faced (SR 103.31)
1000-1500 runs – 498 balls faced (SR 100.40)
1500-2000 runs – 413 balls faced (SR 121.07)#WBBL04

— hypocaust (@_hypocaust) January 13, 2019

Perry is the ultimate professional. Long before the ambassadorial roles she has taken on, the marketing contracts, the sponsorships and the remuneration for her services to cricket, she has always been meticulous about her preparation.

Spending hours upon hours with her father Mark in the Cricket NSW nets, working on her batting technique, she would then go through her bowling paces. If she hadn’t already completed a gym session, she would do so after a two or three-hour net session.

Elite sport is a matter of small margins and the best athletes in the world are always striving to find that extra 1% to gain any advantage. Perry already falls into that category. Yet you get the feeling that she isn’t quite done just yet. What is next for her to conquer?


Lisa Sthalekar

The GuardianTramp

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