For a team that contests with a scant measure of match-winning talents, the absence of one of (only a few) will certainly seem like a blow to the chances of that side. That’s more so when that particular team is all set to embrace the semi final stage of a Cricket World cup. You need your best to perform. You want to walk on to the ground with the strongest of the playing eleven. Which is why news that Ellyse Perry is all set to miss the big semi clash against the West Indies women doesn’t seem like that massive a blow apart from reading like an upset.
And an upset it seriously is. In their last contest versus the Windies women, it was Perry who emerged with the best bowling figures for the Southern Stars; her 3 for 22 ripping apart the West Indies line up.
The right-arm medium pacer removed the dangerous duo of Dottin and Matthews as well as Knight, the trio contributing only sixteen between them.
But that no Ellyse Perry will not really hamper the Australian’s charge has some decree of sense to it, backed with a humongous modicum of truth. While it’s sad that the Australian women’s team will miss a true great of the game on the big occasion, one notes, they won’t really be panicking.
This is still a side that has a huge quintuplet of matchwinners when you think of Meg Lanning, Rachael Haynes, Alyssa Healy, Jess Jonassen and Meghan Schutt.
Add Ash Gardner and the in-form Beth Mooney and you really have a powerful cast of characters almost equivalent to an assortment in the Marvel Universe that’s ready to unleash hell upon the earth.
Yes, for all intents and purposes, had a matchwinning personality or a huge star from the West Indies women’s line up would’ve missed the semi final clash- instead of Ellyse Perry- you’d have felt that here comes a massive blow to the Caribbean women’s chances.
So how is that?
Fundamentally speaking and with fresh evidence from the Women’s ODI World Cup of 2022, the real standouts with the bat from the West Indian line up are their three big guns from the top and middle order.
Deandra Dottin, with scores of 31 and 62, hasn’t really fired. But with an excess of 3,600 ODI runs, she’s clearly a force to reckon with. Then there’s the game changing Hayley Matthews, who’s already smoked a gritty ton versus the White Ferns, besides taking ten wickets and hitting two crucial knocks in the forties. And finally, there’s Stafanie Taylor, the captain courageous, who though has fared lowly with the bat (given she’s scored a solitary fifty from all the group games), has crossed the milestone of 150 ODI wickets.
These talents collectively form the Big Three of Windies women’s cricket if one were to think of it like that. Now had any among Dottin, Matthews or Taylor been missing from the must-win game against Australia, the fans’ hearts would’ve skipped a beat.
But that’s not the case.
Australia, despite not having the services of the experienced all rounder Ellyse Perry, who was notably the player-of-the-match versus the West Indies, have so many in their line up that can add extra force with either bat or ball.
Their vice-captain Rachael Haynes has already clubbed a 130, one of the most attractive centuries in the ongoing world cup campaign, besides hitting an unbeaten 83 against the West Indies women. That she’s going to face a familiar force against whom she excelled will only offer more confidence to one of the finest bats in the game.
While it may not have seemed all that fruitful for Alyssa Healy, among the hardest hitters of the white ball alongside a Shafali Verma and Chloe Tryon, the right-hander’s twin scores of 72, each against Pakistan and India proved she was in it to win it. Jess Jonassen, the wily customer, has been having a busy tournament as per her lofty standards with 8 wickets from 6 games (including three two-fors) driving home the point that Australia have a commanding spinner in their ranks.
Finally, there’s the in-form Meg Lanning, a mega star with the bat, the recently turned 30-year-old hammering 358 runs for her country. When you have someone weighing in the way Lanning has, who also hit a valiant 97 against India and missed out on yet another hundred, the last thing that’d be on your mind is a sense of panic.
What Australia will need is for someone like a Darcie Brown, 6 wickets from just 4 games or Tahlia McGrath to step up in Ellyse Perry’s huge absence.
But rest assured, they’ll fight like they always do- like a sheer force of the nature and will cut no corners against the West Indies, whose mightiest strength, so far, has been their valiance in defending low scores.
It’s a shame that a true great of our sport will have to miss out a momentous occasion and whether she’ll be available in the finals, since Australia seem certain to play, is still not known. But at least, the 31-year-old will breathe a sigh of relief that even in her absence, there won’t be a massive void for her team contests with a band of matchwinners, not solitary figures on whom you’d rely for heroism.