378 runs. 15 wickets. Three formats, one big series. Ellyse Perry sure had a memorable series. If these numbers are accumulated over a period of seven games, the efforts have to be nothing less than stupendous. To put things into perspective, this was the fourth successive Ashes series that Perry has dominated with the bat… To top that, she has been the leading wicket-taker in three of the last four.
Unsurprisingly, Perry was awarded the Player of the Series for her breathtaking performances. While each of her outings has produced something special, the allrounder picked her scintillating seven-wicket haul in the third ODI at Canterbury as her favourite performance of the series.
“I think I was bowling in pretty good areas, getting some good shape,” she said on Wednesday (July 31). “I would really like to pay credit to Ben Sawyer.”
Sawyer, Australia’s assistant coach appointed last year, has been the key figure to have made the difference between the sides. “If we look through the series, the difference the two bowling sides was that we bowlers got some shape with the new ball. I think that is credit to Ben and the work he has done with our pace bowlers,” reckoned Perry, lavishing praise on the Sydney Sixers’ head coach and his work with the pacers of the side.
The Aussie all-rounder is quick to give credit where its due. After the loss against England in the final game of the Ashes series – in the third T20I in Bristol – she was quick to admit that the opposition bowled in the right areas.
“I thought they bowled hard lengths, which was tough to get under. From a personal perspective, I felt I got one boundary away and couldn’t back it up when we needed a big over of about 20 to get us into the game, so it was pretty frustrating. I thought they bowled pretty well and we never just got going with the bat.”
Ellyse Perry dismissed England’s wicketkeeper-batter Amy Jones four times in the series – three times in the three ODIs she played in the series. On Wednesday (July 31), Jones wasn’t sent to open the innings but walked in at five. By then Perry had already bowled a couple of overs and all eyes, naturally, were on her as soon as the English ‘keeper walked in.
Did Perry’s hands itch to have a bowl then? “Actually, I never think about it. We bowled very well tonight. Cool to see Tayla bowl the way she did,” she added, quickly deflecting praise on young Tayla Vlaeminck, who is one of the quicker bowlers going around in the circuit.
Meanwhile, Heather Knight was steadying the ship and was starting to up the ante. Even though she isn’t known to be one of the best in terms of running between the wickets, she can cause a shift in momentum with some lusty strikes punctuated by singles and doubles. However, the England captain was caught unawares by Perry’s bullet throw from deep mid-wicket. The allrounder charged in from the boundary, ran slightly around the ball to make sure she picked it up on the side of her throwing arm, picked it up with one hand and fired it in to Healy: Knight was short of her crease. If not with the ball, Perry had done it on the field.
“It was a good take from Healy as well,” she said. “I think our fielding has been quite brilliant, certainly saved a lot of runs and had very good energy. I think to come out and do that in the last game after a very long series. It was nice to spend time on the field one last time as a group.”
Australia won the multi-format Ashes by a 12-4 point margin. It was all due to the blend of experience and youth, according to Perry. “We have some experienced senior players, who have been on the truck throughout. Then we have got this new wave of professional young players, who’ve only ever known cricket as a job. They have come and attacked in this environment like they were born to do it. We want to try and keep this group together as long as we can,” she opined.
The Player of the Series award couldn’t have gone to a better candidate. Perry stood tall with the bat when her side needed it, and hooped the ball around corners to leave the opposition batters gasping. When not with those two facets, there she was on the field, saving runs and effecting run outs as if her life depended on it. For someone who restricts herself largely to diet coke, the conclusion of the series gave her a chance to let her hair down.
“I think we have a lot of champagne on hand,” she said, as she looks forward to impending tour of the Caribbean after the celebrations end.