This article was first written and published for The Roar.
With WBBL semi-finals just over a week away, five teams remain in contention for the top four spots being the Sydney Sixers, Sydney Thunder, Brisbane Heat, Melbourne Renegades and Perth Scorchers.
Unfortunately for the Melbourne Stars, Hobart Hurricanes and Adelaide Strikers, their WBBL04 campaigns will not progress past Monday.
If you’re a Melbourne-based cricket fan, make sure you get behind the Renegades for their final games. If they can hold onto fourth spot and keep the Scorchers relegated to fifth, they will be the first Melbourne club to feature in the WBBL finals in the history of the competition.
If you are a Sydney-based cricket fan, there’s plenty to be excited about given that the two Sydney teams currently occupy first and second position and do not look like falling any lower on the ladder with so few games left remaining.
While there have been many players for both the Sixers and the Thunder that have contributed to both teams successes this year including the likes of Nicola Carey, Maisy Gibson, Alyssa Healy and Erin Burns, there’s one player’s efforts that I wanted to highlight in particular… and that is Ellyse Perry.
Ellyse has become synonymous with cricket in Australia and is arguably the most recognisable female cricketer in the country. This has been so for quite some time, given that she is a dual international – at one point having played both cricket for Australia and also played football for the Matildas.
We all knew she was talented, but this summer she has certainly taken her batting to the next level. Earlier this week she broke the record for the most WBBL runs scored in a season when she scored an unbeaten 80 from 54 deliveries for the Sixers against the Perth Scorchers. In doing so she broke the previous record of 560 runs held by Meg Lanning when she was playing for the Melbourne Stars in WBBL01.
The scary part is that Ellyse isn’t finished just yet. She is well on her way to 700 runs with the Sixers in action twice more during the regular season – against the Renegades on Sunday and against the Stars on Monday. The Sixers are also guaranteed to play in the Finals, so she has at least another three games remaining.
Given the way Ellyse started the tournament, I am almost surprised it has taken her this long to break the record given that she scored 419 runs in her first six innings this summer.
She started the summer off scoring 58, 102 not out, 74 not out, 10, 72 not out and 103 not out. It’s worth noting that her century was her first in the WBBL and she backed it up with another century a couple of games later.
We have seen the standard of cricket improve across the board dramatically since WBBL01, so in a way it shows what a tremendous batter Meg Lanning is in that her record has stood for so long. But additionally, what a feat from Ellyse to finally break the record.
It seems that batting has been the real winner throughout this summer – with five centuries already being scored – two by Ellyse, one by her team mate Alyssa Healy, Lizelle Lee from the Melbourne Stars and Grace Harris from the Brisbane Heat. Additionally there has been an increase in the average innings score and an increase in the number of boundaries hit.
We can also see this in the bowling figures. In WBBL01, Marizanne Kapp from the Sydney Sixers had the best economy rate in the competition at 4.28 (for a player that had played more than 2 games).
This was no surprise given the dominance of the South African players, particularly as cricket in Australia was still at the early stages of the women’s game becoming professional. The international players really had star power.
It seems that other nations have caught up now, with Marizanne’s economy rate this summer sitting at 6.36 and the best economy rate belonging to Georgia Wareham from the Renegades at 5.72 (it is worth noting that Rachel Trenaman’s economy rate is 5.25 but she has only played four games).
Undoubtedly in response to this article will be some people querying why Ellyse was batting so low at the most recent ICC Women’s T20 World Cup. Australia won this tournament, but many cricketing fans were surprised to see her batting at 7.
During that tournament, Ellyse only faced 49 balls and she also didn’t need to bat in the final where Australia beat England by eight wickets.
Traditionally, Ellyse has been a player that has preferred to play Tests and one day innings.
She is an extremely patient batter so given the explosiveness of the top order for Australia in that tournament with the likes of Allyssa Healy, Ashleigh Gardner and Meg Lanning, it gave me great comfort knowing that if Australia lost early wickets or there was a collapse in the middle order, there was still someone of Ellyse’s stature waiting in the wings to come and steady the ship.
But given her form this summer, Ellyse has certainly made a case for herself batting up the order – especially with the next T20 World Cup just a year away.