Women’s Ashes cricket 2022: Ellyse Perry axed from Australian T20 side

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Superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry has been axed from the Australian T20 side after an underwhelming two years in the 20-over format.

Superstar all-rounder Ellyse Perry has not been selected for the first Ashes T20 match against England at Adelaide Oval in one of the “biggest selection calls in history”.

National selectors have sidelined the 31-year-old for the marquee fixture, opting instead for Brisbane Heat all-rounder Grace Harris, who was parachuted into the squad on Thursday morning.

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Harris has not represented Australia in any format in six years, but was added to the Ashes squad after teammate Beth Mooney suffered a fractured jaw on Tuesday morning.

Meanwhile, Perth Scorchers spinner Alana King will become the 57th woman to represent Australia in the T20 format, with the legendary Shelley Nitschke presenting the 26-year-old with her maiden cap.

Australia has made five changes to its last T20 side — Jess Jonassen, Megan Schutt, Rachael Haynes, King and Harris have replaced Sophie Molineux, Georgia Wareham, Annabel Sutherland, Perry and Mooney.

Australian captain Meg Lanning won the toss and elected to bowl first in Adelaide.

Last week, national selector Shawn Flegler was asked whether Perry would still be considered an automatic selection in the Australia T20 side.

His response was anything but reassuring.

“That’s a very good question,” he told reporters.

“We’ve got to work through that over the next few days and finalise that team.

“We’ve been really clear with the type of cricket we do want to play and what our batters need to be doing in T20 cricket. We want to keep pushing the boat out with our strike rate, so we’ll work through it over the next week.

“She’s played for Australia for a long time and is highly experienced, but we always want our players to develop and evolve, and Ellyse is no different.”

For years, Perry’s selection was never in doubt — since bursting onto the scene as a talented teenager in 2007, she’s been one of the country’s most decorated cricketers and would have comfortably made the starting XI for her batting or bowling alone.

In late 2019, Wisden proclaimed her one of the Five Cricketers of the Decade, alongside Steve Smith, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Dale Steyn.

But since her tragic hamstring injury during the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup, Perry hasn’t been the same in the game’s shortest format.

The right-armer’s bowling has lost its ferocity, and she’s rarely called upon by Australian captain Meg Lanning in T20 cricket — Perry has bowled just four overs since returning from rehab, taking one wicket in six matches.

Meanwhile, the 31-year-old’s batting in the T20 format has copped plenty of criticism over the past couple of seasons for her slow scoring rate.

During the recent Women’s Big Bash League, her strike rate of 91.32 was the lowest of any player with more than 180 runs. She passed fifty just once in 13 knocks.

Since the start of 2020, Perry has averaged 16.88 in T20 international at an underwhelming strike rate of 103.40.

When Perry made her international debut, 120 was considered a strong team score in 20-over women’s cricket — those days are long gone.

Perry still has one of the most reliable techniques in the game, but her inability to find the boundary rope in the middle overs has damaged her otherwise stellar reputation in the 20-over format.

“What we have found the last couple of years in our T20 team is that the balls faced in the middle order is critical,” Australian coach Matthew Mott told reporters on Tuesday.

“It’s not necessarily about picking the best batters at times in those five, six and seven spot, it’s the players with the ability to score runs off 10 balls. Someone who can score 15 runs off 10 balls is an incredibly valuable asset.

“As you’ve seen in the men’s game, it’s very difficult to be a dominant player across the three formats.

“We are on the road for three months so if we can be a bit strategic with our selections and pick players for certain roles, that’s something the selection group has now got the depth in our playing group to be able to do.”

It can’t be emphasised enough that Perry remains one of Australia’s best cricketers, and would be the first name jotted down in the national Test and 50-over teams.

Perry was the Aussie side’s highest run-scorer in September’s Test match against India, and she boasts a mind-boggling average of 86.62 in Australian whites.

Earlier this month, she also smacked a classy century in the WNCL, scoring 120 off 94 balls against New South Wales, whose bowling attack featured the likes of Stella Campbell, Hannah Darlington and Ash Gardner.

But ahead of the Ashes series, national selectors were forced to conduct some very serious discussions over whether the three-time Belinda Clark Award recipient was still among the country’s 11 best T20 cricketers.

“People need to understand that now we have this depth in Australian women’s cricket we are able to make some more specific decisions,” Mott said.

“Ellyse is definitely still in the mix. She is in my opinion probably the greatest player that has ever played the game in women’s cricket. To even have these conversations is just showing how far the depth in our squad has come.

“We’ve made a real commitment as a selection group to make those tough decisions. We look at it as a real positive, not a negative. Certainly Ellyse is the same. She is someone who has called for it in our group, for us to be really specific on our teams.

“There will be some really interesting conversations over the next 24 hours.”

Perry has also been outclassed by South Australian all-rounder Tahlia McGrath, who was named Player of the Series against India earlier this summer.

During this season’s WBBL, McGrath scored 338 runs at 42.25 while also snaring 11 wickets for the Adelaide Strikers. In comparison, Perry claimed five wickets in 13 matches while averaging 35.80 with that bat.

“I think she’s got it all in there, it’s just perhaps about pulling the trigger a little bit earlier and put the pressure back on the bowlers,” Australian captain Meg Lanning said on Wednesday.

“That’s something as batters we all try to do. As a batting unit we talk about doing that. I think Ellyse could certainly take attacks apart when she decides to pull that trigger.

“She’s certainly a very competitive person and wants to do well as often as she can. I think she’s spoken openly about evolving her game and adding some different things to keep up with the way it’s moving.

“T20 cricket in particular has changed a lot over the last two or three years. Every player is talking about how they can improve and get better. Ellyse is in that same boat, in every format over a long period of time she’s shown she can deliver in really big moments. She’s a really consistent performer. I have no doubt she is thinking how she can keep getting better to keep impacting every game she plays, whether that’s T20 or Test or ODIs.”

The Australia A squad is packed with T20 powerhouses who eclipsed Perry in the WBBL this summer — Elyse Villani and Georgia Redmayne both arguably deserve a spot in the starting XI ahead of the all-rounder.

Perry missed both of Tuesday’s internal warm-up matches at Karen Rolton Oval following a Covid-19 scare, with Cricket Australia confirming she had contracted the virus a couple of weeks earlier without knowing.

“She was asymptomatic and had no knowledge of the infection,” team Doctor Pip Inge said in a statement.

“Her delayed arrival into Adelaide was a result of further testing to confirm this result. She poses no risk to the team or the community and is expected to arrive in Adelaide today.”

The Women’s Ashes series gets underway on Thursday evening with a T20 match at Adelaide Oval. The first ball is scheduled for 7.10pm AEDT.

Originally published as ‘Biggest selection call in history’: Ellyse Perry axed from Australian T20 side



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