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Feature

Ellyse Perry still motivated to keep 'evolving' in shortest format

Australia allrounder makes up for lost time by hitting a sublime 75 in the third T20I, shows she still has the stomach for a fight

S Sudarshanan
S Sudarshanan
15-Dec-2022
Ellyse Perry attributed the WBBL for her success in T20 cricket  •  Getty Images

Ellyse Perry attributed the WBBL for her success in T20 cricket  •  Getty Images

How much really is too much?
An international career spanning one-and-a-half decades is bound to have its share of highs and lows. Ellyse Perry has won multiple World Cups - T20 and ODIs - starred in Women's Ashes series, suffered heartbreaks and endured testing times. But the last year, perhaps, tested her more than others, especially in the T20 format.
Ever since Perry walked away teary-eyed with a hamstring injury during Australia 2020 T20 World Cup campaign, she's faced one test after another. The allrounder has played only nine of Australia's 20 T20Is since January 2021 - three out of 14 in 2022. A stress fracture of the back, sustained at the end of the ODI World Cup earlier this year, meant she couldn't bowl during the Commonwealth Games.
Perry's strike rate with the bat came under scrutiny and she missed out on a spot during the T20I leg of the Ashes earlier this year. With the rise of Tahlia McGrath as an allrounder since her T20I debut last year, Perry couldn't find a place in Australia's best XI on the strength of her batting alone.
And so in a setup without Meg Lanning, who is on an indefinite break, and the retired Rachael Haynes, Perry found a spot in the XI on the tour of India and proved why she is still regarded so highly.
Asked to bat first in slightly seamer-friendly conditions at the Brabourne Stadium, Australia were reduced to 5 for 2 in the third T20I. It was the earliest that Australia had lost their second wicket in T20Is this year. The consistent Renuka Singh and Anjali Sarvani had managed to stifle the visitors with some disciplined swing bowling.
However, off her third delivery, Perry saw just enough width and hit the ball through covers. She capitalised on the slightest width and was unafraid of using her feet early in her innings, racing to 25 off 17 balls to take Australia to 43 for 2 at the end of the powerplay.
With the field then opening up, Perry resorted to rotating strike and kept Australia on course. She hit Deepti Sharma over deep midwicket for her first six and continued to attack the Indian bowlers even after Beth Mooney fell. She ventured down the track to Renuka, hitting her over mid-off, and then walloped another six off Devika Vaidya.
"The game's moving at a rapid pace forward. We've seen that around the world. Very fortunately for us that we've got the WBBL which is going now for eight editions."
Ellyse Perry, Australia allrounder
Perry got to her half-century off just 33 balls, her fastest in all internationals. From a situation where Australia were in trouble, Perry was pulling off a rescue act with minimal fuss. It was only the third time she had hit three sixes in a T20I innings and she did it at a venue where she had won Australia a World Cup on one leg. She finished with her T20I best score of 75 and helped her side get to 172 on a track that was not as flat as the ones in Navi Mumbai.
Perry was also at her wily best with the ball, though she bowled only one over. As Harmanpreet Kaur and Shafali Verma were cruising towards a half-century partnership and attacking every bowler, Perry ran in and almost had Shafali chop one on. One over. Two runs. Top impact. That slowed India down and the visitors managed to break the partnership a couple of overs later.
"You're always trying to evolve," Perry said. "The game's moving at a rapid pace forward. We've seen that around the world. Very fortunately for us, we've got the WBBL which is going now for eight editions.
"I think there is no better place to keep evolving and trying to develop. That's a strong motivating factor to still play. That's the most fun part of the game, to continue to work on things and work with people you love working with."
An athlete's 'prime' is a subjective phrase. You never know if Perry is past that stage. But every time she steps onto the field, she almost conjures magic, which is reason enough to put everything aside and watch Perry do her thing without wondering about how much more she has in the tank.

S Sudarshanan is a sub-editor at ESPNcricinfo