Perry’s fairytale 300th game proves fortunes favours the unyielding

Legendary all-rounder Ellyse Perry becomes the first Australian and fourth woman overall to play 300 international games. 

Published : Jan 07, 2024 22:10 IST - 4 MINS READ

If you’re watching Ellyse Perry play for the first time, you will never be able to tell she is a veteran player with over 15 years of international cricket behind her.

Her energy between the wickets and agility on the field have a 20-something vibe to it. However, do a double take when she’s batting and you’ll see her helmet at least five shades lighter than the batter at the other end, finally betraying the decade and a half of cricketing experience she has to her name.

A class apart

On Sunday, the first of 2024, Perry rang in a special milestone in the second T20I against India, an addition to a career embellished with achievements most athletes, irrespective of the discipline, can only admire and envy.

She became the first Australian woman to play 300 international games. Perry is the fourth to join this illustrious club which features legends like Mithali Raj, Charlotte Edwards and Suzie Bates.

Perry didn’t get a chance to roll her arm at the D.Y. Patil Stadium on Sunday, but guided her side to a series-levelling win with a six.

“I’ve had so much pride and joy in being involved with the team for as long as I have been. Playing 300 games is definitely a special privilege,” Perry said after the game.

The 33-year-old is the quintessential all-rounder, adept with bat and ball in equal measure and an absolute gun by the boundary ropes. She has 6,585 runs and 323 wickets across formats and is nowhere close to the finish line.

“It’s kind of crept up on me in the last couple of days. It has really made me reminisce about where it all started, to my backyard where I would play the game with my dad and brother. It’s miraculously turned into this career, where I am able to play around the world.”

After the customary “how does it feel to get to 300, Ellyse”, the natural follow-up has been “how about 400, Ellyse?”

The trademark Perry nonchalance followed.

“I don’t know what’s in store... but if it’s meant to be down the track and I’m still around playing... I’m really open to what happens. I don’t have a set timeframe on it. Either way it doesn’t really matter, it’s just another number.”

Australian cricket is an unending assembly line of talent. If one, however decorated, does not click, he/she has to make way for another equally, or more, deserving candidate.

Perry, easily one of the most marketable faces of the women’s game, was treated no differently, especially in the shortest format of the game, when she was dropped from the Australian T20I side in early 2022.

A loss of efficacy with the ball and a poor strike-rate with the bat meant Perry was struggling to keep younger suitors for her place in the team at bay. She also travelled to Birmingham for the Commonwealth Games but a stress fracture consigned her to largely to the bench.

After announcing the shocking decision, national selector Shawn Flegler had this to say about one of the most dramatic calls in Australia’s cricketing history.

“[Perry] played for Australia for a long time and is highly experienced, but we always want our players to develop and evolve. Ellyse is no different,” he had said then.

A makeover

That flipped a switch somewhere in Perry as she gave her approach, particularly in the shortest format, a makeover. Incidentally, it was India against whom she notched up match-winning performances on her return to the side a few months later.

For someone who was criticised for her inability to find the boundary regularly and keep up with the changing demands of the T20 format, Perry amassed 319 runs in 10 innings at a strike-rate of 151.18 in 2023.

Throughout the ongoing tour of India, Perry has been able to break chokeholds set by the Indian bowlers and allow Australia to score at a healthy rate.

Her match-winning, unbeaten 21-ball 34 in the second T20I came at a 161.90 strike-rate and she fittingly finished the game with a maximum.

Change is the only constant and Perry has given the women’s game a playbook on how it’s never too late to widen one’s repertoire.

With two ICC events in the subcontinent over the next 18 months and consistently impressive performances in diverse conditions, the warhorse will back herself for 400.

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