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More than the WPL money, 'general growth of women's cricket' is important for Ellyse Perry

"The discussion from us as a group was just what it's going to do for the game, not so much what it's going to do for an individual"

The Women's Premier League (WPL) has been tipped to be "a gamechanger" for women's cricket, and the player auction was all the talk a couple of days ago, but that isn't the focus of Australia's current T20 World Cup squad.
They were training in Gqeberha as the bidding began on Monday, Ellyse Perry, who found out after the practice session that she had been picked up by Royal Challengers Bangalore for INR 1.7 crore (AUS$ 207,000.), said. Another 13 Australians - 11 of those also in South Africa with Perry - were sold in the auction, which she admitted was a "weird" concept in itself.
Ashleigh Gardner was the joint-highest earning overseas player alongside England's Nat Sciver-Brunt, going for an eye-watering INR 3.2 crore (US$ 390,000 approx.) to Gujarat Giants and Mumbai Indians respectively. But prices aside, Perry acknowledged that the growth of the women's game in India was a big deal.
"From my perspective, I don't think any of us ever led the conversation in terms of monetary value," she said. "I think there's something at play that's much bigger than that. Of course, remuneration and the chance to earn that kind of money is wonderful, but much larger than that I think is just the general growth of the sport right around the world.
"India is kind of, I guess, the spiritual home of cricket in a lot of senses. And I think now that women are starting to have a really strong presence in the Indian market and also in the Indian game, that is so much more important than any kind of dollar value that is placed on any player. So from that perspective, the chat was just around wanting to be involved.
"Of course, after the auction, those discussions come in about certain value and how much people are sold for, which in itself is a weird kind of concept to swallow. But yeah, I just think it's so much bigger than that. The discussion from us as a group was just what it's going to do for the game, not so much what it's going to do for an individual."
The Australians were in a more relaxed position than England, who faced Ireland while the auction was still going on, with some players taking the field already knowing the results and others having to wait until after the match. Perhaps even more timely, on the eve of the auction, Gardner had claimed her first international five-wicket haul as Australia beat New Zealand by 97 runs. And, by the evening after, her team-mates were joking that the treats were on her for the rest of the tour.
"Ash is a phenomenal player," Perry said. "I was fortunate enough to play with Ashleigh in her first WBBL campaign with the [Sydney] Sixers and I don't think she's looked back since then. Year on year, she's just got better and better.
"Probably what stands out to me the most now is the contribution that she's making with her bowling. Added to the obvious power that she possesses as a batter and ability to take games away there, now the consistency in her bowling and what she's contributing during our fielding innings just makes her such a threat. She has every facet of the game covered off and really is just perfectly built for T20 cricket.
"The consistency that she has for that now has probably made her as rich as what she is," Perry added with a smile.
Perry was also impressed by Georgia Wareham, who made her international return after 16 months out with a knee injury against Bangladesh on Tuesday and bagged three wickets. Wareham will play alongside Gardner at Giants after being bought for the equivalent of nearly US$ 91,000 despite her long spell out of the game.
"It was so awesome to see Wolfy play again," Perry said. "Such a long road back from a really devastating injury. I think any athlete who hears the word ACL in terms of an injury, it's a pretty tough one to swallow.
"To have the patience that she's had to work as hard as she has and the other part of it is she's hardly played any games of cricket in the last 16 months and she just comes out and does that. And that's so Wolfy. She's just the most naturally talented and laid-back sort of cricketer that I've come across. Often after long injuries, it takes a long time to perform again but she's done it straight away."
Australia and Sri Lanka will both be seeking their third straight wins of the tournament when they meet at St George's Park on Thursday.