The breadth of Ellyse Perry’s sporting talent has been well established, but she gave an insight into her knowledge of sporting history being similarly impressive as her Sydney Sixers stormed to their fifth consecutive Women’s Big Bash League victory.
The Sixers’ abysmal start of the competition saw them lose their first six matches. What initially seemed a token victory just before Christmas, when they beat Perth Scorchers at home, has been shown up as the start of an unlikely finals qualification bid.
Their commanding victory over Melbourne Renegades on Sunday at Junction Oval entrenched their return to form, which saw them win all four of their matches over three days in Melbourne.
It is hard to upstage Perry, and even though she was deservedly player of the match for what was her third half-century in four days she was relegated to second fiddle behind Ashleigh Gardner. The 18-year-old clubbed 42 from 29 before falling on the cusp of the Sixers reaching their target of 129 with eight wickets and 32 balls to spare.
While Perry was rapt with the result she was quick to put it in context when asked if reaching the semi-finals would qualify as the great escape, given they lost their first six matches.
“I think there was an America’s Cup race that was probably more of an escape than us,” said Perry, referring to 2013 when the United States trailed New Zealand 1:8 in the first-to-nine yacht race but nevertheless won.
Irrespective of the implications for the semi-finals, Perry hailed the Sixers for turning around what was on track to be a wretched season, for a team that was saddled with high expectations given its line-up.
“Certainly it is a big turnaround . . . and it is obviously a lot nicer winning than it is losing. I think sometimes you really search for answers when things aren’t going well and sometimes it is simple as you are just not playing well and it is sort of against you and I think it showed a lot of character in the group to turn it around the way we have. And winning is certainly a habit, so now that we’re in doing that, hopefully we can keep that going.”
The Sixers bowlers limited the Renegades to 2-24 in their powerplay, allowing them to score from only eight deliveries in those first six overs with the field up. Even though the Renegades lost only one more wicket until the 18th over, that of top-scorer Dane van Niekerk for 38, they did not score fast enough to make amends for their sluggish start. Their 6-128, which was helped by Molly Strano’s 33 from 26, needed to be complemented by early wickets to challenge the Sixers. Kris Britt (32) was also handy, but ultimately the Renegades were punished for none of their batters going on to make a big score.
South African all-rounder Marizanne Kapp excelled. The right-arm seamer claimed 2-7 from her three powerplay overs and was on a hat-trick on her way to finishing with 2-13.
In the Sixers’ reply Alyssa Healy’s departure in the fourth over brought Gardner to the crease. By the end of the eighth over she was only nine when Perry was on 38, but by the 12th over she was just one run away from matching her partner, thanks to her six fours and a six.
Perry, whose unbeaten 67 came from 42 balls, had no problem with Gardner taking the limelight and helping ensure the Sixers gain a significant run-rate boost.
“It was really exciting I think – and she’s kind of done that for us all weekend. Coming in at three . . . her role is to blow the game apart a bit and she’s been really good at doing that,” Perry said of the right-hander. “She’s got a phenomenal eye and hits the ball really cleanly, so when it is in her spot more often than not she finds the boundary . . . in Twenty20, especially early overs, if you can do that a couple of times it really gives you the momentum coming in after the first six. She was outstanding.”