Ellyse Perry targets comeback at start of New Zealand series but realistic on workload

The allrounder, who injured her hamstring six months ago at the T20 World Cup, wants to be able to go full tilt in the middle

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
Ellyse Perry brings out the sweep, Australia v India, Women's T20I tri-series, Canberra, February 2, 2020

Ellyse Perry brings out the sweep  •  Getty Images

Ellyse Perry remains hopeful of being able to return to action in Australia's opening T20I against New Zealand later this month but is realistic at the prospects of playing all six T20Is and ODIs which come in the space of two weeks.
It is six months since Perry severely injured her hamstring in the final group match of the T20 World Cup, also against New Zealand, which ruled her out of the semi-final and historic final at the MCG.
Having gone through her recovery in the Covid-19 era - and over the last five weeks under stage-four lockdown in Melbourne - she is back to batting and bowling without any issues, but a few questions remain about the demands imposed by fielding and the intensity of international cricket ahead of cricket's resumption on September 26.
Throughout her recovery Perry, who is currently going through two weeks quarantine in Brisbane ahead of the New Zealand series, has insisted that she does not want to return unless able to compete at the top of her game and as an allrounder although hasn't ruled out playing as a batter only.
"Everything is tracking pretty well and we are using the next couple of weeks to make sure things keep progressing," she said. "I'm fairly unrestricted now with running, batting, bowling and it's probably just those little more specific things around match fitness and especially fielding - just getting into all different kinds of positions which are potentially compromising for the injury I had.
"My preference is to play as an allrounder, that's who I am and it has always been by role. I don't want to upset the dynamics of the group if I can help it because it gives us different options when I'm playing as an allrounder, but that's a call we'll make in the next couple of weeks."
Having had six months without any cricket since the T20 World Cup final - Tuesday marked exactly half a year since that day in Melbourne - once the New Zealand series starts it will begin an intense couple of months of action with the WBBL, which will be staged entirely in Sydney, beginning at the end of October. Perry, who will line up for the Sydney Sixers, does not want to have to hold back in the middle.
"Across the series with both the T20 and one-dayers then looking ahead to the WBBL I'm sure they'll be some considerations around managing [workload], making sure I play the vast majority of cricket and we don't go too hard, too soon," she said. "It's just about making sure that we cover all bases before I play again.
"If I'm playing I want to be fully fit and able to play in the way I always play. It's probably more about managing the frequency of matches I play, the schedule because of considerations around Covid is quite condensed so it might not be possible or sensible to play all those games but hopefully I can play some of them."
The postponement of next year's ODI World Cup until 2022 means the next major target for the side has shifted, but Perry sees this season as an opportunity to further build the depth of the squad - due to the restrictions involved there are 18 players in the group for this series.
"While it's disappointing we don't have the World Cup next year think it presents a really exciting chance for the group. It's the biggest squad I've ever been a part of, a lot of fresh faces, and it will help us develop a broad playing group. Hopefully we can lay a platform for the years to come when we do get to play that World Cup."
On Tuesday, Cricket Australia also launched its new female participation strategy with the aim of building on the success of the T20 World Cup. There have been concerns that Covid-19 will hit the development of the women's game, but in terms of its standing in Australia Perry believes the efforts gone into making the New Zealand tour and WBBL happen show how important it remains.
"We are essentially the blueprint for the summer in terms of how we'll play cricket in Australia," she said. "To have the opportunity to be the first series on Australian soil is really exciting, but I also think it's an example of how serious Cricket Australia are about the women's game and continuing to develop it.
"While it's been a really tricky time for every sports organisation I don't think that's meant we've taken a back seat in any sense, in fact some of the work CA and Australian Cricketers' Association have done around female involvement and development shows it's very much a priority."

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo