Australia have been dealt a crushing blow with superstar Ellyse Perry ruled out of the Twenty20 World Cup finals in the biggest week in women’s cricket history in this country.
Perry left the field in tears in Monday’s clutch win against New Zealand with a right hamstring tear, before scans delivered the worst possible news to Australia on Tuesday with a high-grade strain.
It means Australia will enter unchartered territory headed into Thursday night’s semi-final against either England or South Africa at the SCG, with their title defence in jeopardy.
The 29-year-old has never missed a T20 World Cup match for Australia, featuring in each of the country’s games since the tournament’s inception in 2009.
She has helped the country to the title four times and was the ICC’s women’s player of the year last year.
Australia have won just seven of 12 games without her in the T20 format since her debut in 2009, compared to 80 of 120 with her.
She had already been playing injured with shoulder and hip problems having hampered her summer and will now miss the upcoming tour of South Africa.
Coach Matthew Mott opted against bringing another player in, with Perry to remain part of the 15-woman squad.
“Ellyse is a key member of our squad and has been for a long period of time,” Mott said.
“On a personal level we’re disappointed that she won’t have the opportunity to finish the tournament,” Mott said.
“She gives her absolute all every time she takes to the field for her country.
“That was evident again against New Zealand in the selfless manner in which she threw herself into her batting, bowling and fielding performances.
“We’re confident that we have enough depth in the squad to cover her batting and bowling and know whoever gets an opportunity will make a strong contribution.”
Spinner Sophie Molineux is also under an injury cloud, unable to play so far in the tournament with a corked thigh.
But with the side’s two biggest-ever games ahead of them, Australia could have dearly done with Perry’s experience.
Perry is the top-ranked allrounder in women’s Twenty20 cricket, averaging 28 with the bat and 19 with the ball.
Her injury comes at the cruellest time, having played a vital role in the development of the women’s game to the point where a sold-out final at the MCG on Sunday is a target.
The hosts will now be without their two quicks for the finals, after speedster Tayla Vlaeminck was ruled out with a foot injury before the tournament began.
Nicola Carey or Annabel Sutherland will now be Australia’s second quick at the pointy end of the tournament, just weeks after making their World Cup debuts.
Delissa Kimmince will also likely come into the XI.