Ellyse Perry faces the prospect of being squeezed out of Australia’s T20I side at the start of the Ashes as the selectors look for continued evolution in the format and a focus on strike rates. Since her T20I debut in 2008, Perry has featured in 126 of Australia’s 144 T20Is but with the bat, her game is starting to feel out of place for the middle-order role she generally takes, and she has been used sparingly with the ball of late, with just three overs in three matches against India earlier this season.
The return of Rachael Haynes, who missed the India matches through injury and is seen as Australia’s middle-order safety net in T20Is, and the outstanding performances by Tahlia McGrath mean there may not be a place for Perry against England next week.
With the bat in T20Is over the last two years she has scored 152 runs at 16.88 and a strike rate of 103.40 while in this season’s WBBL, her 358 runs came at a strike rate of 91.32 – the slowest among the top 30 run-scorers – as she was shuffled around Sydney Sixers’ batting order. That followed a 2020 season where her strike rate was 96.53. Her overall bowling figures in T20Is are outstanding, with 115 wickets at 19.45 and an economy rate of 5.87, but she has been sparsely used since returning from the serious hamstring injury suffered at the T20 World Cup in March 2020.
“We’ve got to work through that over the next few days and finalise that team,” national selector Shawn Flegler said. “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. We’ve got a couple of intrasquad games [in Adelaide] on Tuesday, so if Ellyse does get the opportunity, I’m sure she’ll do well. 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,” she added.
Before the India series last year, Perry acknowledged that she needed to keep pace with the T20 game. “I think any format of the game, as time goes by it evolves like any sport, but maybe it’s faster-paced in women’s cricket at the moment, just because of how much change and development we’re undergoing,” Perry had said. “That’s not a new thing for me – I reckon that’s something that I’ve gone through for the best part of my career. I think that in sport, you’ve always got to push yourself to develop and get better, otherwise, someone always comes along who is going to jump you.”
It has been the return of McGrath to international cricket that has added to the pressure on Perry’s role after she made her T20I debut against India, with scores of 42 off 33 balls and 44 off 31 batting at No. 6 below Perry. “Tahlia has really accelerated in her ability to have an impact on games,” captain Meg Lanning said. “We saw in the India series it wasn’t just easy conditions she was coming into, she was able to dig the team out of trouble a couple of times and that was a really good sign for a player who doesn’t have a lot of experience at international level. Nice to have an extra option in the middle order and with the ball as well she has some pretty good skills.”