Kia Super League 2017 August 10, 2017

'Women's cricket can be on a par with tennis' - Perry

Jon Culley

Ellyse Perry has made her name as a cricket and football international © Getty Images

Australian star Ellyse Perry believes it is time to move on from comparing women's cricket with the men's game and celebrate the female version as a sport in its own right.

Speaking on the eve of her first match in the 2017 Kia Super League - Loughborough Lightning's opening fixture against Western Storm in Taunton on Saturday - Perry sees no reason why women's cricket should not enjoy the same profile women's tennis has alongside the men's game.

"If you look at tennis, it is probably the leading sport in terms of male and female equality yet they are really different games as well," the 26-year-old all-rounder said.

"Aside from the obvious difference that one goes for three sets and the other for five at the slams, the way the game is played is different.

"People appreciate the games for different reasons, like in the women's game the rallies go on for longer because the serves are not as hard whereas in the men's game there is the real power there.

"But fans appreciate the two games equally for different reasons and because you're a fan of men's tennis doesn't mean you can't enjoy women's tennis too."

Perry, whose Lightning team open their fixtures in a double-header with Somerset's NatWest Blast match against Kent Spitfires, believes women's cricket can also succeed because it is different.

"Obviously, women are biologically different from men but I think it is time we moved away from comparing women with male players," she said.

"In my mind we are two different sports and so long as we are compared to the men's game it kind of hamstrings us a bit because you can't forge your own competition, your own game and your own kind of entertainment for the public.

"If you look at the World Cup and the final in front of a full house at Lord's you saw what a great spectacle it can be and the ECB and the ICC deserve congratulating for the way they staged and promoted a great tournament."

Thanks to her success in cricket and her parallel career in international women's football, Perry has become a high-profile figure in her native country, the face of women's sport in Australia. She is also married to the Australian rugby international Matt Toomua, who plays just down the road from Loughborough for Leicester Tigers.

Most other female cricketers have some catching up to do in that respect but Perry believes there is enormous potential for top women's cricketers to become stars in the same way as their male counterparts.

"For women's sports in general, whether it be cricket, soccer or the AFL at home, it is about creating your own identity and product," she said.

"It is not just about the match on the day, it is about developing the stories and the rivalries and bringing the players to the fore in terms of their own stories and personalities in the way they play the game.

"There is so much scope for that in the women's game with great characters and personalities and the World Cup showed it is really possible."

After their away match with Western Storm, Lightning host their two home fixtures in this year's Kia Super League next week, taking on 2016 champions Southern Vipers at Derby on Tuesday, followed by a clash with Yorkshire Diamonds on Friday at Loughborough.

As well as Perry, the Lightning line-up features two more Australian World Cup stars in batter Elyse Villani and leg-spinner Kristen Beams, as well as England World Cup-winners Georgia Elwiss, the captain, and Beth Langston, and 35-times capped wicketkeeper Amy Jones.