Sydney: World No.1 cricketer Ellyse Perry has called for Cricket Australia to schedule more women’s Test matches over the coming years.
In her new autobiography Perspective, Perry urged cricket administrators to prioritise women’s long-format cricket, citing Test cricket as among her most cherished sporting memories.
Although she’s been a critical member of the national squad for over a decade, Perry has only played eight Test matches during her stellar career, all against England.
In comparison, the 29-year-old has represented Australia in 112 ODIs and 111 T20s – she is ranked World No.1 all-rounder in both formats.
“Test matches are probably the greatest determinant and examination of character that exists in the game,” Perry said.
“Test matches are such a novelty in our game in comparison to the amount of limited-over cricket we play. Only two nations, Australia and England, currently play women’s Test cricket, and we only play a one-off Test every few years.”
“They’re pretty rare and incredibly special to be a part of. When one comes around, everyone is excited about the opportunity.”
“Celebrating with your mates after spending four days together in the field working towards something is one of my most cherished cricket memories.”
Of Perry’s eight Test matches, Australia has been victorious in two, with four petering out into draws. Unlike the men’s game, women are only allocated four days to attain a result.
Women’s Test cricket has been severely mistreated over the past few decades — Australia’s most recent four-day match was played on a dilapidated, used pitch in Taunton.
Perry has scored 624 runs in Test cricket at an average of 78, including two fifties and two centuries. The all-rounder has also taken 20 Test wickets at an average of 18.19.
During the first ever Day-Night Ashes Test in 2017, Perry smashed 213 not out against England at North Sydney Oval, the highest ever score by an Australian woman in Test cricket.
The Sydney-born cricketer cites that Ashes match as a turning point for women’s cricket in Australia, signifying it as the first instance where she felt her team belonged in Australia’s sporting culture.
“We had the most incredible four days of support and atmosphere at the ground,” Perry said.
“This was the first time that I thought women’s cricket had created a viable place in Australia’s sporting landscape. When people turn up to watch you play, it is the most incredible reinforcement that what you have spent hours, days, years doing is worthwhile.
“There was so much more to the event, and everyone was able to have a good time, whether they were young or old, cricket fanatic or not. It was a genuine social occasion for everyone.
“To know that our team is worthy of praise is awesome.”
Despite the record-breaking achievement, Perry was disappointed the match ended in a draw, with neither side gaining an advance for the remainder of the Ashes series.
There has not been a result in women’s Test cricket for over four years, the last occasion being Australia’s thrilling defeat of England at Canterbury.
While Boxing Day at the MCG and Jane McGrath Day at the SCG have become celebrated annual sporting fixtures, Perry would like to see Cricket Australia push for a permanent women’s Test in the summer calendar.
“It would be [great] to have an annual home fixture during the Australian summer where the Australian Women’s Cricket team plays a Test match at the same venue on the same date each year,” Perry said.
“With an annual Test match at North Sydney Oval, people could come along, set up for the day on the grass hill or in the stands, have a picnic and/or a few drinks and watch the cricket.”
Perry and Sydney Sixers teammate Alyssa Healy shared a record-breaking unbeaten partnership of 199 against the Melbourne Stars in the Women’s Big Bash League last weekend the previous highest WBBL partnership was 156.
The Sydney Sixers’ next fixture is Saturday afternoon when they face the Brisbane Heat at North Sydney Oval.