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Sydney Sixers coach Ben Sawyer has launched a defence of star allrounder Ellyse Perry, claiming the spotlight on her form and drop down the order is over the top.
Perry has moved from opening to No. 4 for the Sixers' winning start to the WBBL, accommodating the arrival of India's Shafali Verma. It comes after an international series against India where Perry scored a half-century but averaged 106.50 with the ball across all formats.
That prompted debate over Perry's form, and whether she even remained in the top-10 most valuable players in the WBBL. But Sawyer said he was mystified by the criticism, particularly after Perry helped the Sixers to a win over Hobart on Sunday.
"A whole lot has been said that I think has been a little bit over the top," Sawyer said. "It was her decision to move down the order when we'd spoken a lot about that we hadn't finished off games particularly well.
"It was pretty weird, I saw something after the game yesterday that she's not considered the top 10 cricketers in the WBBL anymore. I'd have her in the top 10, I think most teams would."
Sawyer is Perry's long-time mentor, as her Sixers coach and fast-bowling coach. And he is adamant bowling will remain a part of her game for the rest of the 30-year-old's career.
Perry was on limited bowling duties for the Sixers last summer on return from her severe hamstring tear, and has games without bowling for Australia in the past nine months. But Australia's leading all-time wicket-taker and fifth highest run-scorer across all formats remains in the top 10 of both the ICC's one-day and T20 allrounder rankings.
She is also playing a key early-innings role for the Sixers in the WBBL, while trying to improve on middle and death-overs bowling for Australia.
"People forget that it takes a bit of time as a bit of a senior cricketer to get out of quarantine for 14 days and to get back into it," Sawyer said. "The more she bowled, the better she got. Yesterday [against Hobart] was another example of that, with 2 for 9.
"But once again as a really good leader we spoke about the fact that pace off was going to be really important. She didn't just bring herself on to bowl when she probably could have answered a lot of critics yesterday and continued on. She chose what was best for the side."
Meanwhile crowds will be able to return for Tuesday's WBBL double-header featuring Melbourne Stars, Hobart, Brisbane and Perth, with Hobart's lockdown ending on Monday night.