Southern Stars v South Africa
Perry inspired by ‘backyard hero’ Bevo
Gun allrounder spearheads Southern Stars in knock reminiscent of the original 'Finisher'
Laura Jolly at Manuka Oval, Canberra
19 November 2016, 09:17 AM AEST
Ellyse Perry's brilliant unbeaten innings that guided the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars to a thrilling final over win in their one-day international opener against South Africa on Friday was one of the great limited-overs finishing efforts.
In a knock worthy of the original 'Finisher' Michael Bevan, Perry was composed, classy and confident in her 93 not out from 107 deliveries at Manuka Oval.
Quick Single: Perry spearheads triumph
With the run rate steadily climbing and wickets falling at the other end, Perry was unflappable, assessing the situation perfectly as she saw off a tough period from the Proteas bowling attack.
Sharing key partnerships with Alex Blackwell (25) and Alyssa Healy (28), she rotated the strike and eased the pressure with well-time boundaries, before accelerating precisely when needed at the finish.
Given ACT-native Bevan was the Southern Stars allrounder's self-confessed 'backyard hero' while growing up – a young Perry insisting on wearing his No.12 Australian shirt every day of the summer holidays one year – it shouldn't come as a surprise.
Quick Single: Stars need to improve, says Perry
Nor should it have come as a surprise that Perry once again thrived at Manuka Oval, the same ground where she equalled her previous ODI high score of 90 in February this year, picking up four wickets in the same match.
"I love playing in Canberra and I think all the girls do," said Perry, who spent several years living in the nation's capital while playing in Canberra United's W-League squad and who still part-owns a café in the city.
"We get wonderful local support here, with the crowd tonight I honestly think the atmosphere helped a lot.
"When it gets tight like that, to have the weight the crowd behind you makes a huge difference.
"Manuka Oval is a great place to play cricket."
Incredibly, Perry now averages 44.45 in the one-day format – a considerable effort given she spent the first six years and 54 games of her 78-match international career batting between No. 7-9 and averaging 21, only climbing up the order during Australia's 2013 Ashes campaign.
Since then, thanks to the marked improvement in what was previously the lesser of her dual powers, she has scored 14 half-centuries at 80.73 in 24 matches, including a record-equalling six in a row.
While a maiden one-day century still eludes Perry, the 26-year-old will have another chance at Manuka Oval on Sunday when Australia and South Africa meet again in the second fixture of the five-game series.