Perry set for 300 matches with no end in sight

Superstar allrounder Ellyse Perry is set to become the first Australian women to play 300 matches across all international formats, and is open to reaching 400

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On the cusp of playing an unprecedented 300th game for Australia, superstar allrounder Ellyse Perry can't rule out the possibility of one day playing a 400th.

Perry will become the first Australian woman, and just the fourth overall, to play 300 matches across all international formats in Sunday's second T20I against India in Mumbai.

She joins an exclusive club that features three legends of the game in Mithali Raj, Charlotte Edwards and Suzie Bates.

At 33 years old, Perry remains one of the game's premier allrounders and just recently, said she could not rule out potentially still being part of the Australian team when cricket makes its debut at the Olympics in Los Angeles in 2028.

Reaching 400 would likely mean playing for at least another three years – and on Saturday, she said she had no plans in mind for how long her playing career might extend.

"I'm very much open to whatever pans out in the next little bit for me," Perry told reporters from Mumbai on Saturday.

"I'm absolutely loving the opportunity to be a part of this group still, and I think if I'm in the same phase as I am at the moment, then I'd love to play 400.

"But I don't think any of us have a crystal ball either, so if that doesn't pan out as well, then I've more than had my fair share of amazing experiences with this group.

"I think that's just another number, but for as long as I can contribute to the team, and it's something that I find really motivating and enjoyable, I'd love to be here."

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Raj and Edwards, both retired, played 333 and 309 matches respectively, while current White Ferns player Bates also sits on 309.

Assuming she remains fit, Perry could well surpass Raj to become the game's most-capped woman next summer. 

After a near golden run of form and fitness through the first 12 years of her career, Perry encountered a serious setback when she tore her hamstring off the bone during the home T20 World Cup in 2020.

It was the first of a few setbacks the allrounder has handled in the years since, including a stress fracture in her back that prevented her bowling in the 2022 World Cup final.

More recently, Perry has had to adapt to keep pace with a 20-over game that is rapidly evolving.

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Dropped from Australia's T20I XI for the 2022 Ashes, she found herself in an unfamiliar position when women's cricket made its much-anticipated Commonwealth Games debut, carrying drinks throughout the gold medal-winning campaign.

It forced Perry to unlock a new white-ball batting mentality and, when she returned to the T20 side six months later, she produced back-to-back career-best performances with the bat in India.

Twelve months on, she has been nominated for the ICC's T20 player of the year award, and no woman who faced more than 200 balls in 20-over internationals in 2023 had a higher strike rate than Perry.

"To be honest, I think from a bigger picture point of view, I've just had so much pride and joy in being involved in the team for the period of time that I have (which has been) such an influential time in women's sport as well," Perry said, when asked if her T20 transformation was a point of pride.

"To see the progress that's taking place in that period has been truly amazing.

"From a personal point of view, with that has come different challenges and different opportunities to get better and keep trying to evolve the way that I play.

"From the last 18 months point of view, that's just been part of it and I've really enjoyed that challenge – but I think I've probably got a lot more pride in just having the opportunity to be a part of this team for as long as I have."

It is that challenge to stay ahead of the game – and more importantly, to help Australia remain ahead of their rivals – that continues to drive Perry has she enters her 18th calendar year of international cricket.

Australia are in a period of change following the retirement of former captain Meg Lanning, which followed the 2022 departures of coach Matthew Mott and vice-captain Rachael Haynes.

The next 18 months will see them defend their World Cup titles in both white-ball formats and host a home Ashes.

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"It's a great time for us, of evolution. You've seen a lot of that in the way that Phoebe Litchfield has performed in those one-day matches; Annabel Sutherland, her last 12 months," Perry said.

"That's something we're incredibly conscious of, (to) maintain the success we've had, but equally evolve that, to look a little bit different in the way the team plays.

"The game is moving at such a rapid pace. There's a new environment.

"In a lot of ways, for our game at the moment, the sky's the limit in terms of where it can go.

"For me, it's just always trying to make the most of what pops up and hopefully continue to get better for as long as I can."

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Australia captain Alyssa Healy joked following the first T20I that Perry had been reluctant to discuss herself around the team as it "made her feel old".

Perry admitted her thoughts had drifted into nostalgia as Sunday's game drew nearer, but it was not the seven World Cup wins, personal records or Ashes triumphs that were front of mind.

"To be honest, it's crept up on me a little bit," she said.

"Certainly in the last few days with a few bits and pieces popping up, it's been a nice chance to reflect, mainly in the sense of how incredibly fortunate I've been … being involved with the team and playing a sport that I truly love playing.

"But I think the probably one of the biggest things that I've reflected on last couple of days is just where it all started, in the backyard with my dad and my older brother, and then some of the incredible lifelong mates that I made playing school and club cricket when I was a kid.

"Somehow, miraculously, that's turned into a career that I've had for a long period of time and some amazing experiences and opportunities representing my country.

"Whether that was one game or 299, I'm incredibly grateful for how it's transpired."

Australia's CommBank Tour of India

Test match: India won by eight wickets

First ODI: Australia won by six wickets

Second ODI: Australia won by three runs

Third ODI: Australia won by 190 runs

January 5: First T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

January 7: Second T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

January 9: Third T20I, DY Patil Stadium, Navi Mumbai

Australia squad: Alyssa Healy (c), Tahlia McGrath (vc), Darcie Brown, Heather Graham, Ashleigh Gardner, Kim Garth, Grace Harris, Jess Jonassen, Alana King, Phoebe Litchfield, Beth Mooney, Ellyse Perry, Megan Schutt, Annabel Sutherland, Georgia Wareham

India T20 squad: Harmanpreet Kaur (c), Smriti Mandhana (vc), Jemimah Rodrigues, Shafali Verma, Deepti Sharma, Yastika Bhatia, Richa Ghosh, Amanjot Kaur, Shreyanka Patil, Mannat Kashyap, Saika Ishaque, Renuka Singh, Titas Sadhu, Pooja Vastrakar, Kanika Ahuja, Minnu Mani