Also said the Australia women have received some advice from their male counterparts on how to adjust to cricket after a period of quarantine in NZ
It has been more than a year since Ellyse Perry limped out of the T20 World Cup after severely injuring her hamstring. She has admitted it has taken her all that time to return to a level close to what she was pre-injury. And there’s more work to be done too.
She has also used the opportunity – and the imbalance between training and playing created by the Covid-19 – to make adjustments to her run-up, which have taken time to feel natural. Her Australia comeback will be against the same side she was facing when the dreams of a home World Cup final were shattered.
Perry sat out Australia’s one international assignment since the World Cup – the visit by New Zealand last September – before returning to action in the WBBL with Sydney Sixers which followed shortly after.
The runs came at a good volume – 390 at 48.75 – but a strike-rate of below 100 (96.53) was enough to create some debate about her batting. Meanwhile, with the ball, it was a struggle as she claimed eight wickets with an economy rate of 8.35 and that was followed by a WNCL campaign for Victoria where she took just two wickets in six matches.
“Throughout my rehab process I saw that as a great opportunity to work on a few different things and one of those was improving the efficiency or effectiveness of my run-up to give me a little more balance and power at the crease,” Perry explained. “That was a work in progress and bringing it into the first round of actual competition at the start of the WNCL, I didn’t expect it to go smoothly. Those first couple of games against New South Wales probably weren’t perfect but since then it’s been really great because I’ve been able to iron that out. It feels fine now.”
“That’s always the challenge and the best part of being involved in sport is the constant need to improve and evolve as a player,” she added. “It’s no different for any player. At different points in your career, there are different challenges and ways to go about things, but from a bit of a broader picture, it’s probably taken me the best part of 12 months to feel like I’m back to full playing fitness and performance levels.
“By no means do I think I was close where I was before I got injured during the WBBL, and it’s probably still a bit of a work in progress, but it’s been a really nice opportunity to work on various aspects of my game.”
A trade-off for this tour currently taking place is that the Australia players have missed the final stages of the WNCL with the final between Victoria and Queensland taking place in Melbourne on Saturday. Victoria, who are without six names plus the injured Annabel Sutherland, made a request to Cricket Australia about delaying the final to allow the Australia players to be available, but the original schedule has been retained.
“In the current climate you’ve got to make the most of opportunities to play cricket,” Perry said. “The fact there’s a final going ahead is the most important thing because you just don’t what will happen at the moment. It was worth a shot asking the question. Domestic cricket means a lot to all of us.
“It’s a shame, it would have been really nice to play the whole season but it’s also very hard to complain when there’s an opportunity to play international cricket as well.”
Australia will complete their managed isolation in Christchurch on Saturday ahead of the first T20I in Hamilton on Sunday evening. They will be aiming to use advice passed on from the men’s side who found themselves off the pace at the start of their series against New Zealand last month.
“Some of the mail we got from the men’s team was that when they came over here adjusting to the pace of a match again after being in quarantine for two weeks and just training was probably the biggest shock for them,” Perry said. “So there’s something to be aware of, just making sure we step up from training to competition again and we are not on our heels from the get-go.”
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
West Indies vs Australia, 5th T20I, 2021
The visitors are already without many players who would make up their usual ODI top order
Finch twisted his knee in the field and was significantly hampered during the Australian chase, especially when running between the wickets. His innings of 34 was ended by a spectacular catch at long-on by Fabian Allen as Australia fell 16 short to concede the series 4-1. A Cricket Australia spokesperson said Finch had a mild knee complaint earlier in the tour, which he had fully recovered from.
The squad travels to Barbados on Saturday ahead of the three-match ODI series, which begins on Tuesday. They are already without the majority of the players who would make up their usual ODI top order, so they would want Finch in their XI.
Matthew Wade would likely lead Australia if Finch were to be absent, having stood in for him during the T20I series against India last year. Ben McDermott (quad) and Ashton Agar (hamstring) missed the latter part of the T20I series with minor injuries.
Given the nature of touring during the pandemic, Australia have a larger squad although the two travelling reserve players – Nathan Ellis and Tanveer Sangha – are bowlers, so they can’t provide any cover to the batting department.
Although the major focus of this tour was the T20I series – five more matches will follow in Bangladesh if the biosecure plans are approved – the ODIs carry World Cup Super League points. Both Australia (third) and West Indies (eighth) have so far only played six matches in the league.
Australia rung the changes for the final T20I, giving Mitchell Swepson and Andrew Tye their first outings of the tour – for Tye it was his first game since early February in the BBL – which meant 17 of the 18 players in the main squad had game time during the five matches, with only the uncapped Wes Agar not used.
“He’s put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes with his bowling and trying to become that proper allrounder. It’s the best form I’ve ever seen him with the bat. It’s everything we’ve known he’s been able to do for years and we hope he can continue”
Andrew Tye on Mitchell Marsh
“Thought the way we defended in the back ten overs in this game, we were staring down the barrel of 220-230, was impressive and our powerplay bowling has been pretty good in the other games,” Finch said at the post-match presentation. “We just haven’t backed it up with the bat. There’s some guys there with not a huge amount of international experience. When you are trying to stamp your authority on a game, it can be tough at times so not too critical of them.
“There’s a bit more experience at the top and we probably didn’t give them the best platform. Winning would have been nice but feel as though we have some more information and plenty of stuff to think about.”
“He’s growing into his new role at No. 3 and flourished,” Tye, his Perth Scorchers team-mate, said. “I’ve never seen him execute so well with the ball. He’s put in a lot of hard work behind the scenes with his bowling and trying to become that proper allrounder. It’s the best form I’ve ever seen him with the bat. It’s everything we’ve known he’s been able to do for years and we hope he can continue.”
The bowling had moments when it stood up well; Josh Hazlewood’s performance in the opening match, Mitchell Starc’s final over to earn victory in the fourth, and Adam Zampa’s resilience under attack from West Indies’ big hitters were the highlights.
Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo
Recent Match Report – Lancashire vs Durham North Group 2021
High-scoring thriller comes down to the final over as Durham take it deep
Lancashire 199 for 5 (Allen 66, Jennings 56) beat Durham 193 for 5 (Dickson 53, Bedingham 50) by six runs
Lancashire do not have blissful memories of this fixture. Three years ago they failed to score six off the final over when they had four wickets in hand. That defeat led to one or two frank exchanges in the dressing room and the departure of Jordan Clark to Surrey, albeit that had been possible for a while. Then last year their batsmen were swept aside like shingle in a perigean spring tide by an ecstatic Matty Potts.
For this game mattered a lot. The Vitality Blast season has moved from simple entertainment to dread consequence. Most analyses of this evening’s programme began with “if” and ended in a labyrinth of knotted possibilities. Simplicity was rarer than Prime Ministerial truth. And even now Lancashire have secured the victory, things are not completely clear. True, Durham now have no chance of reaching the quarter-finals, a fate they hardly deserve, but Lancashire’s place in the last eight rests on – wouldn’t you guess it? – the game against Yorkshire. Win that and they can look forward to an away quarter-final. Lose and their fate depends on Northants and Leicestershire defeating Birmingham and Worcestershire on Sunday.
The run-scoring slackened in the third quarter of the innings and perhaps it could scarcely have done otherwise. Alex Davies and Dane Vilas took stock to the extent that none of the overs between the ninth and fifteenth yielded ten or more runs. Then Davies whacked Trevaskis for a six and a four and Lancashire were off again. Well, at least Davies was. The endlessly combative batter reached his fifty off 36 balls in the 19th over but holed out to Borthwick off Potts at long-on for 56 four balls later and Lancashire finished on 199 for 5. Borthwick was the pick of the Durham bowlers and his 2 for 30 were the best figures. That is not always the way. Statistics sometimes wrong-foot performance in this game.
Similarly a side chasing a tall total can often fold up and subside. But that has never been Durham’s way. Bedingham belted almost every bowler in the Powerplay and Dickson’s approach to his task was epitomised when he whacked a straight six off Croft that smashed a window in the home dressing room and left an outraged Chapple standing arms akimbo on the balcony as if making the points that someone had got to pay for the damage and Lancashire are not made of windows.
So the T20 season comes down to the last weekend of group games. Lancashire can be encouraged that they have now won five of their six home games and tied the other. On the other side they would not be facing such a tense denouement to their campaign if they had more than just one win from seven matches on their travels. An incompetent philanderer could not have played away with less success.
Paul Edwards is a freelance cricket writer. He has written for the Times, ESPNcricinfo, Wisden, Southport Visiter and other publications
Mark Boucher admits South Africa affected by bio-bubble unrest at home
“To say it’s not affecting us is not true. It is affecting us and every South African.”
Not only is South Africa in the grip of its third wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, but riots and looting in the Gauteng and Kwa-Zuly Natal provinces have left more than 200 people dead and caused food and medical shortages, crippling parts of the country. “To say it’s not affecting us is not true. It is affecting us and every South African,” Boucher said.
South Africa wore black armbands in the third ODI to show solidarity with those affected by the violence, which was at its worst earlier in the week, including on Tuesday, when they lost to Ireland.
“We weren’t there the other day. Our awareness was down; our intensity was down,” Boucher said. “We looked at quite a few things without making excuses. We had a long chat after the game and we said, ‘Guys we are in a position where we can’t afford to make excuses. You are playing for your country and you have to be up every game.’
Boucher said a combination of factors, including moving from one bubble in the Caribbean to another in Ireland, contributed to the lacklustre showing on Tuesday.
“I have to look at the reasons why we were flat. It could be that coming off a good win against the West Indian team – usually you get a bit of time to take that in and get away for a while – maybe a week or two and we didn’t have that opportunity. As soon as we got that win, guys were packing and we got onto a plane and we flew for two days and got back into another bubble,” Boucher said.
“If you want to be real around the whole thing, our energy is probably a little low because of that. Also what’s going on back home. That’s probably the reason why our awareness was down badly.”
The same thing happened in the third ODI, when South Africa’s bowlers allowed the Irish tail to put on a seventh-wicket stand of 104 and a 10th-wicket partnership of 47.
“Today we came out and showed when we put our minds to it and we play with good energy, we were there but when the game was sort of won, we took our foot of the gas again, which was a bit disappointing. We didn’t end off the game as we wanted to.”
Boucher has taken it on himself, and the rest of the management, to try and keep the squad as focused as possible, despite the difficulties of finding ways to stay entertained under current restrictions.
“It’s a tough one. It’s even tougher in bubbles because one of the things we’ve liked to do is get the guys out a bit,” he said. “We’ve found a spot on the beach where guys can go for a walk, albeit at 8 o’clock at night. There’s a golf course next to us which we are allowed to play at with restrictions. And in general, in team chats, we are giving a space for everything to get their emotions out because keeping it in and having to be locked down in your room can be quite tough, especially if you have been personally affected. And I know there have been a couple of families personally affected. These are things we didn’t know we’d have to deal with. We are going along with a gut feel of what we feel is best for the players and trying to be there for the guys who feel quite emotionally drained by what is going on.”
Their time on the road is not over yet. South Africa have another week in Ireland and will play three T20Is on Monday, Thursday and Saturday before returning home. Boucher expects his team to be up for it against hosts who they take very seriously.
“This Irish team is no walkover team. They have had some close series against England, who are a very good team. We knew from the start that if we don’t rock up here in these conditions, which they know well, we’ll be found out,” Boucher said. “If we thought we’d just rock up at 70%, we are going to get tested in a massive way. (On Tuesday), we had a bad day on tour, which we are allowed to have. The energy levels will be a lot higher in the remaining three games. We’ve been on tour for two months, guys have been away from home, families and things are happening at home. Now, it’s about emptying the tanks.”
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo’s South Africa correspondent
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