If Ellyse Perry was frustrated by her lack of time in the middle for Australia in recent months, she’s certainly making up for lost time this Rebel WBBL season.
In five innings opening for the Sydney Sixers, Perry has struck 316 runs at an average of 158, dismissed just twice in knocks of 58, 102no, 74no, 10 and 72no.
It comes after she batted at No.7 through the recent World T20 in the Caribbean, forced down the order by a host of in-form batters who were striking their own runs at a rate far higher to Perry across the 12 months prior.
She faced just 49 balls across the entire tournament – 28 of those coming during her defiant knock of 39no in a losing effort againstIndia – and wasn’t required to bat at all in the final as Australia romped to an eight-wicket win over England.
The 28-year-old was also the leading run scorer in WBBL|03, scoring 552 runs in 16 innings – a total she is on track to easily eclipse if her current form continues.
But it’s not the volume of runs so much as the rate at which they’re being scored that has been so impressive.
Last WBBL season, Perry was striking at 98.57 – one of the reasons she found herself shifted down the Australian order behind the likes of Alyssa Healy, Beth Mooney, Elyse Villani, Ashleigh Gardner and Meg Lanning.
This season, her runs are coming at 136.79, on pace with the likes of Sophie Devine (132.25) and Healy (135.86). Her century against the Scorchers earlier this month came in just 59 deliveries.
Speaking after the Sixers’ 17-run victory over Hobart on Sunday – where Perry also executed a brilliant direct-hit run out and took a fine running catch – the allrounder said she’d enjoyed the challenge of developing another aspect of her game.
“It’s 12 months down the track and the game’s continually evolving and everyone’s trying to go with it,” Perry said.
“It’s such an exciting period of time to be involved, it’s been nice to have had a few challenges to work on and sometimes it comes off which is nice.”
Leading into the Big Bash season, Sixers coach Ben Sawyer – who was with the Australian team in the Caribbean as a bowling coach – predicted Perry’s lack of opportunity in the middle at international level would light a fire in her belly for WBBL|04.
"She's a very competitive person and everyone in this team wants to bat higher and bowl more overs," Sawyer told cricket.com.au last month.
"So I think that's definitely pushing her. It's a great position to be in and I think that challenge has pushed her a little bit, so it's been good.
"I've noticed even in my short time here with the (Australian) team her strike rate from last year has gone up, so I think that challenge of having to go down the order a little bit has pushed her a bit.
"Hopefully it also (comes across) in the Big Bash as well."
Whether or not Perry's new power game will translate into a promotion up the Australian batting order won't be known for more than six months, with Australia's next T20I engagement to come against England during the Ashes next July.
Higher scoring across the board is the trend so far in WBBL|04; after 19 matches the average run rate is 7.56 runs per over, compared to 6.69 for the entirety of WBBL|03.
In the first three WBBL seasons, there were just three successful run chases above 150; so far in WBBL|04 there have been five.
And while there were 17 totals above 150 in total last summer, there have already been 17 after just 19 games this time around.
The WBBL|04 action continues on Tuesday, when the Hobart Hurricanes host the Perth Scorchers at Blundstone Arena.