Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Melbourne
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Australia's star allrounder Ellyse Perry has been ruled out of the remainder of the T20 World Cup after suffering a high-grade right hamstring injury while fielding during the win over New Zealand at Junction Oval.
Perry fielded a ball at mid-off and threw in one motion, off-balance, trying to run out New Zealand captain Sophie Devine. She immediately crumpled to the ground clutching her right hamstring, and hobbled off with a significant limp and a concerned look on her face. She did not field for the remainder of the match.
Perry had a scan in Melbourne on Monday night which revealed a high-grade tear that will not only rule her out of the rest of the tournament but also out of Australia's upcoming tour of South Africa which follows the T20 World Cup.
Australia won't name a replacement in their 15-player squad.
"Ellyse sustained a high-grade right hamstring injury that is expected to keep her out of the game for a significant period of time," Australian team Doctor Pip Inge said. "We are currently exploring management options and will continue to support Ellyse through her recovery."
Australia coach Matthew Mott said the news was disappointing for both Perry and the team but he was confident the squad could cover her loss.
"Ellyse is a key member of our squad and has been for a long period of time and on a personal level we're disappointed that she won't have the opportunity to finish the tournament," Mott said. "She gives her absolute all every time she takes to the field for her country and that was evident again against New Zealand in the selfless manner in which she threw herself into her batting, bowling and fielding performances.
"We're confident that we have enough depth in the squad to cover her batting and bowling and know whoever gets an opportunity will make a strong contribution."
Perry came into the New Zealand game in doubt due to a hip complaint that restricted her training in the build-up and had to pass a fitness test on the morning of the game to be cleared to play.
Perry made 21 from 15 with the bat but was not running with her usual fluency during the innings and was kept away from outfield duties in the field. She is normally posted at deep midwicket as one of Australia's best fielders but spent the first 11 overs fielding in the ring, predominantly at mid-off.
Perry's absence will leave a huge hole in the Australian line-up given she is the No. 1 allrounder in the world alongside Devine. Her absence was felt even in the win over New Zealand as Ash Gardner was required to fill her last two overs. Gardner conceded 26 runs including 15 off the last over when New Zealand needed 20 to win.
However, Australia captain Meg Lanning was adamant Australia had enough depth in the squad could to cover Perry's absence. "She's obviously been a massive part of our squad and our team for a long time," Lanning said after the match on Monday. "You can't replace her but we've got 15 players here who can do a job and you need a squad to win a World Cup. You can't rely on one or two players and the same XI each game. We're going to have to use the depth that we've got and we've said we've got a lot of depth. I believe that and we're just going to have to use it and that's just the reality of it."
"Unfortunately, in elite sport you get injuries. Unfortunately, Ellyse has got an injury. I've got full confidence that any player who comes in can play a role and we're just going to have to get through it and play maybe slightly differently but that's fine. You've got to adapt."
As far as Devine, the New Zealand captain, was concerned, it would be a shame if Perry couldn't get back on the field for the remainder of Australia's engagements, though she said she was certain Perry would play against New Zealand, injury or not.
"Anyone going down at any point in a world event is really hard to see. Especially someone like Ellyse," she said. "We know what she brings to the women's game and I know people were saying she might not play this game but I didn't have any doubts that she was going to play.
"She would have to have her leg amputated for her not to take the field and it looked like she nearly did snap her leg off. I really hope she has a speedy recovery, whatever injury she has sustained. It is a real blow for the women's game. I know it definitely will be for Australia but the world loses out on a great player."