Australia v WI, Women's World Cup final, Mumbai February 17, 2013

Australia's limping hero

Ellyse Perry aborted her first two attempts at bowling because of an injured ankle, but she fought through to deliver a match-winning spell

The ghost of Rick McCosker's jaw is never far away in Australian cricket. No matter what the injury, if you can perform, you should.

An Aussie batsman once told me he couldn't sit in a chair at the end of the day's play, but he still fielded the next day even though it was the fourth innings, just so his team-mates didn't think he was soft. That is how it is in Australian cricket. The team comes first, your health second.

In the Women's World Cup final, this couldn't have been shown more obviously than when Ellyse Perry came on to bowl. Perry had missed a great deal of the tournament with an injured ankle. Her replacement, Holly Ferling, had done so well that Perry needn't have been tested. But she is a star, and she wanted to help win the World Cup for her team. Australia took a gamble on her fitness.

With the bat, Perry's ankle held up. She slogged her way to 25 off 22, the only Australian batsman with a strike rate above 100, and woke up an innings that was dipping into a coma.

When she came on to bowl, West Indies had handled the new ball well. They'd built a platform, not lost a wicket, and still had Stafanie Taylor and Deandra Dottin to come. Australia needed Perry.

Instead of steaming in and firing through the openers, Perry barely got to the crease for her first attempt. She pulled up, limped and looked worried. As did every other Australian player. It didn't look like she'd get through a ball, let alone an over. The second attempt was much the same. It ended in no delivery, pain and worry.

It was then that the captain Jodie Fields shot a look off to the dressing room. It wasn't a happy look. Australia's gamble was about to cost them ten overs of a strike bowler, and Fields was suddenly trying to work out how she was going to make up for that. Perry could have limped off. An injured ankle for a fast bowler is death.

But Perry refused to give up. Her third attempt was painful to watch, it was someone hurting, someone who didn't trust her body, but somehow she delivered a ball. Nothing great, but one more than looked likely. Her team-mates screamed their support. The ball was left alone and went through to Fields, who kept the ball and ran up to Perry. It was the briefest of chats, perhaps just mindless support. Fields knew how important every ball Perry bowled was. It was the difference between West Indies having a chance to win, and not. Whatever was said got Perry through the over.

With her sixth ball, Perry took Kycia Knight with a dodgy lbw. Perry's seventh took the edge of West Indies' gun, Taylor, but the evidence on the catch at slip was inconclusive. Perry's tenth ball, she had Taylor out caught and bowled. Perry's 15th was Natasha McLean's wicket. After three overs Perry had 3-2-2-3.

Perry might have limped her way through it, but it was West Indies who never recovered. She could have stepped back from there. The job was done, the clichés were ready, and the game was just playing out to what was a fairly predictable result. She could have been hidden in the field, stood back on one leg, and let the rest of her team cash in on her brilliance.

She wouldn't allow herself to become a passenger. Perry kept giving it her all. She raced around for run-outs, dived to stop singles, threw herself threw into the air unsafely, unwisely and ungainly to catch Deandra Dottin. And continued to bowl.

Perry bowled her entire ten overs, often limping in between balls or overs, but she just kept going until Australia had won the World Cup. In her last over, Perry bowled a bouncer. It was a special effort, courageous and skillful.

An injured ankle is not quite as sexy as McCosker's broken jaw but what Perry did deserved to be added to illustrious list of Australian cricket propaganda.

It'll start as a gutsy effort that won a game Australia should have always won. Yet, in a few years time, as people forget the details and just remember the result, it'll be known as the World Cup Ellyse Perry won on one leg.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on February 19, 2013, 2:11 GMT

    So glad Elise Perry didn't give into her W-League team who gave her an ultimatum that she had to stop playing cricket and be focussed on a single sport! What a champion!

  • Charith on February 18, 2013, 14:12 GMT

    While watching the first 2 attempts, I thought she would give up & throw the ball at someone else to do the bowling. The pain was so visible I felt it. Then the miracle happened. 2 players came into to support her & I don't know what they said, but that definitely gave her the confidence & energy to bowl the first ball. Even thogh it was not a wicket taking ball it was evident that she suppressed the pain to deliver what team required. After that like the author said, the briefest chat with the captain ensured that she would bowl the full over & later on full quota. Her sixth delivery, boy I was sooo happy for her that she could deliver through that pain & uncertainity... Take a bow Perry, you really are a magnificant player...

  • Max on February 18, 2013, 10:33 GMT

    Wonder why when Perry bowled trough the pain barrier that the Aussie male fast bowlers keep getting injured & cannot get through a series or even a match. Doug Bollinger was not considered for test matches for the ostensible reason that he could not complete a series without injury. Dougie (& players of the opposing teams) must be laughing his (their) guts out now, at the sight of a whole stable of Aussie MALE fast bowlers unable to complete a match let alone even a 3 test series.

    Rick McCosker's jaw compared to Allyse Perry's ankle? You've got to be kidding! How many batsmen bat with their jaw?! Granted the pain levels are great but still if your mind is strong & your eye is set, you can still bat. Anil Kumble also did it. However show me a male fast bowler running in to bowl in a WC final with an injured ankle??!

    Great stuff Perry & the Australian team!!

    The ICC simply has to do more to nurture the women's & associates/ affiliated teams. This should go without saying.

  • Dummy4 on February 18, 2013, 10:00 GMT

    Totally awesome stuff. Perry embodied the 'Australianism' ..

  • Dayne on February 18, 2013, 2:43 GMT

    Fantastic work ladies, the men could learn a lot about their approach from you all.

  • arjun on February 18, 2013, 2:42 GMT

    An inspiration for everyone .

  • Roo on February 18, 2013, 0:58 GMT

    @Jarrod Kimber :- "An injured ankle is not quite as sexy as McCosker's broken jaw"... lol...

    Believe me Jarrod, I would much prefer to be treating Ellyse's injury than Ricks - & yes, it is much more sexy... Obviously not a leg man... :P

  • Dummy4 on February 17, 2013, 21:46 GMT

    Ellyse is simply a brilliant star who adorns the game. And, this performance underlines her toughness, too.

  • des on February 17, 2013, 20:17 GMT

    If Aussies are so tough, as this article claims, how come their (male) bowlers get injured opening the fridge?

    Maybe the womens team could teach them a thing or two.