Ellyse Perry. ©Getty Images

The Ashes is one of biggest and greatest rivalries going around. The intensity, the player battles and atmosphere is just phenomenal to watch.

Through the course of history there have been some players who have commanded a presence like no other through the course of an entire Ashes series. With regards to the men’s game, there was the series in 1981— better known as ‘Botham’s Ashes’— where Sir Ian Botham almost single handedly won games for England. More recently, in 2005, it was Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff who inspired his team to victory for the first time since 1987. In 2019, the Ashes have seen the rise of another hero— one who has dominated the series with both bat and ball like few before her have done: Ellyse Perry.

Perry has owned the 2019 multi-format Ashes series, bagging a whopping four player of the match awards across formats so far. She has wreaked havoc with the ball in hand and with the bat, has guided Australia to victories in tricky run chases. Along the way, she has ticked off several milestones, most recently becoming the first player, male or female, to complete the T20I double of scoring 1000 runs and taking 100 wickets.

“I guess that’s lovely, but no, I wasn’t aware of it,” laughed Perry when she was told of the record soon after guiding Australia to a seven-wicket win in Hove on Sunday (July 28).

“You know, I actually think, probably in T20I cricket at the international level we play as much as the men, so we’ve got a pretty big volume of games now— over 100. So, I suppose when you play that many games you might get close to it (the record)… Probably one of the reasons I’m there is I’ve played a lot of games,” she said of her achievement.

As she has often done through the course of her career, Perry was quick to deflect any praise that was being heaped on her following an unbeaten knock of 47. She instead credited the entire team’s growth and development over the last 12 months for Australia’s dominant performances on the tour.

“I think it’s playing in a really successful and dominant side at the moment,” the allrounder said. “Just putting together some complete cricket. At this moment everyone’s performing and making the most of whatever opportunities they get, and it’s just been a lot of fun to be a part of that.”

“At various times (through the series) I’ve got to spend some time out in the middle… With the ball as well. I think everything we’ve done across that period has been in partnership, whether it’s with ball or bat. It’s been quite enjoyable to be a part of it.”

Australia’s win in the second T20I at Hove showcased their adaptability and clear thinking in conditions that were very different to the previous game at Chelmsford. On a surface that was slow, and timing was hard to find, England continually tried to hit their way out of a hole, playing some extravagant shots and ultimately losing their wickets. Australia on the other hand, Perry and Meg Lanning in particular, were smart in the way they used their feet and maneuvered the field, finding the boundary whenever the opportunity presented itself.

“Conditions were different today, and I thought that the way that our bowlers probably set the game up— restricting them to 121 on what’s a pretty small ground, quick outfield and not a bad wicket— was outstanding. I thought Delissa Kimmince was exceptional again, Jess Jonassen bowled very well and everyone backed that up. I thought that was brilliant, and then obviously the way Meg took control when she came out was really pleasing.”

“I just think we’re playing some really experienced and mature cricket at the moment and that’s giving us a great advantage.”

So far in the series, Perry has scored 318 runs at an average of 79.50 and also taken 15 wickets at 11.80, including a best of 7 for 22. Her wonderful run with the bat has seen her rise in the T20I batting order to no.5— at least two or three places higher than she was batting through the 2018 Women’s T20 World Cup in the Caribbean.

“I’ve sort of really enjoyed any role that I’ve had in this squad, especially the T20 team because I think we’re really quite flexible and adaptable,” said Perry when asked if she was happy to have moved up the order. “Obviously with Ash there, who plays a bit of a floating role, comes in and hits the ball as cleanly as she does… We’ve had a successful formula now for the last 12 months, and the kind of T20 cricket that we play means everyone’s really moving across roles and happy to go with whatever that means on the day.”

“So yeah, I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to bat back up the order, but by no means am I disappointed when I’m lower down. It’s been cool…”

Australia’s dominant run through the series means they are now 12-2 up with one game to go and have the chance to become the third Australian women’s team to go through an Ashes series in England unbeaten. Perry, while slightly surprised by the position Australia find themselves in, believes that their dominance is a result of the professional setup in Australia.

“To be completely honest with you, the way that we started with the three ODI wins, we were absolutely chuffed with that because England are a formidable side and they’ve been a dominant side in the last 5-6 years, and they’re world champions in the ODI format. So, to be in the position we are with one game to go… Yeah, it does surprise me a little bit.”

“I guess it speaks volumes of how much our team has developed over the last 12 months and potentially how important our professional set up is back home. Not just the 15 girls who are on tour here, but the 13 who were on the A tour… All the domestic girls back home who are literally training and playing all year round now. And that’s been on for a couple of years, and I think that’s starting to really show up and pay dividends. In that respect I think we’re some of the luckiest cricketers in the world at the moment.”

If anything, Australia’s dominance over England has made one thing incredibly clear: they are miles ahead of the rest of the pack. As Adam Collins wrote, “Good luck catching up!”

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