Champion all-rounder Ellyse Perry remains hopeful a back stress fracture will heal in time for her to return to the bowling crease come the Commonwealth Games in July, but she will be available to bat.
Australia’s inaugural women’s squad for a Commonwealth Games, to be held in Birmingham, was confirmed on Friday, effectively unchanged from the group that lifted the one-day World Cup in New Zealand earlier this year.
Perry missed part of that tournament with back spasms, and narrowly edged out Annabel Sutherland to be selected in the team for the final, where England were trounced.
Last summer, Perry was dropped from the T20 side for the first time as Australia favoured faster-scoring players, and faces a battle to regain her place even if she can bowl.
Perry, 31, said on Friday she would tinker with her bowling technique, conceding the stress fractures were due to workload and a couple of technical things.
This period gives me a chance to clean up a little bit and, hopefully, when I do get the chance to bowl again, it’s a bit more efficient and not putting as much stress on my body, Perry said.
So, in a way, I actually feel like Benjamin Button because apparently these injuries are very much a young person’s injury – so I’ll take that. In most cases, it’s fairly unique to sustain that [injury] at my age.
Voted the ICC’s international cricketer of the past decade, Perry said her ability to bowl would be known over the next couple of weeks.
We’re having some progressive scans as I’m going and each time that will give us a clear indication of how it’s healing and where I’m at in terms of bowling again, Perry said.
But we’ve got to wait until it’s completely healed before I can start bowling. It could be soon, but it might be delayed depending on the progress there.
While Perry’s bowling is the frontline issue, her strike-rate with the bat was what led to her demotion last summer. The world champions have a solidified top three in Beth Mooney, Alyssa Healy and skipper Meg Lanning, while the hard-hitting Ash Gardner, Rachael Haynes and Tahlia McGrath, who impressed last summer, have provided greater drive through the middle order.
Perry has a strike rate of 105. 47 in 126 T20 internationals, compared to Gardner (129. 36), Haynes (117. 48), and McGrath (156. 63), although the latter has played only five matches.
Australia play a triangular series against Ireland and Pakistan in mid-July before the Commonwealth Games, where Lanning’s side will face India, Barbados and Pakistan before the semis and final. The Australian men’s team won Commonwealth Games silver in Kuala Lumpur in 1998, the last time cricket featured.
Neither Georgia Wareham, still recovering from a knee reconstruction, nor Tayla Vlaeminck, could be considered due to serious injuries.
Team physiotherapist Kate Beerworth explained that Vlaeminck, the world’s fastest bowler when fit, was working with the Australian Ballet by way of recovery, but was not expected to be back in action before the end of 2022. Wareham’s knee will keep her out of action until around February next year.
Tayla is also progressing well in her rehab after sustaining a navicular stress fracture prior to the Ashes in January, a similar injury to what she suffered prior to the 2020 T20 World Cup, Beerworth said.
She’s been working with the Australian Ballet over the past few months and will continue to progress her rehab using a collaborative approach with Cricket Victoria, Cricket Australia and Australian Ballet staff.
Tayla’s injury is long term and she remains unavailable for the tri-series, Commonwealth Games and the WBBL, with no date set for her return at this stage.
The major change to an otherwise well-grooved team will be that of the head coach alongside new Test coach Brendon McCullum.
Shelley Nitschke will coach Meg Lanning’s team as interim, with the chance to make the job permanent and tred the same path Andrew McDonald did when replacing Justin Langer as men’s coach.
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