Perry claims Belinda Clark Award
Superstar allrounder caps off a brilliant 12 months that saw Australia regain the coveted women's Ashes
Laura Jolly is a Melbourne-based journalist for cricket.com.au. She previously wrote for News Corp Australia and the ICC Cricket World Cup 2015.
With seemingly endless amounts of natural talent at her disposal and one of the hardest workers in cricket to boot, every time Ellyse Perry appears to reach the pinnacle of the women's game, she goes and sets the bar even higher.
The 25-year-old, who has represented Australia in two sports and helped the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars claim every trophy on offer, can now add Belinda Clark Award medallist to her long list of achievements.
Allan Border Medal coverage
- Allan Border Medallist and Test Player of the Year: David Warner
- Belinda Clark Award: Ellyse Perry
- ODI Player of the Year: Glenn Maxwell
- Domestic Player of the Year: Adam Voges
- Bradman Young Cricketer of the Year: Alex Ross
- Crown Golden Ale Red Carpet photo gallery
Perry was named the top women's international player of the year at Wednesday night's Allan Border Medal Evening, the first time she has won the prized award, ending Australian captain Meg Lanning's two-year streak.
— cricket.com.au (@CricketAus) January 27, 2016
Her commitment to improvement was never more evident than during the Commonwealth Bank Southern Stars' Ashes campaign last year, where over the course of the seven-match multi-format series Perry scored 264 runs at an average of 33 and took 16 wickets at 13.43 – more than anyone else in either discipline.
Her performances played a key role in the Southern Star's first Ashes win on British soil since 2001, and combined with a strong three-match Twenty20 series against Ireland, she was a clear standout during the voting period, capturing 33 votes to finish ahead of Lanning (20 votes) and pace bowler Rene Farrell (15 votes).
Belinda Clark Award winner Ellyse Perry // Getty Images
"She's certainly a player who, in the short time I've been involved with the team, I've seen a genuine improvement in," Southern Stars coach Matthew Mott, who took on the role in early 2015, said.
"She's had a great 12 months.
Watch: Perry almost completes hat-trick
"In that Ashes series she was amazingly consistent."
Originally better known for her pace bowling than her batting, Perry has worked tirelessly to sharpen the – marginally – weaker of her dual powers, something that paid off handsomely for the Southern Stars in the first leg of the Ashes.
She was named the player of the ODI sub-series with scores of 78, 48 and 67, while she also took three crucial top-order wickets.
Her knock of 48 in Bristol ended a record run of seven consecutive ODI half-centuries, highlighting the advancement of her batting game.
Watch: Consistent Perry peaks again
"With her batting I've noticed a lot of change to her intent and her ability to put bowlers under pressure," Mott said.
"She's just a truly genuine allrounder who would hold her spot in the team with bat and ball. Throw in her fielding as well and she's certainly very valuable in the line-up."
Then, in the one-off Test in Canterbury, it was with the ball was Perry starred.
Watch: Perry's six Ashes Test wickets
When Australia needed English wickets on the final day of the rain-affected Test, it was Perry who drove the Stars to victory with a career best 6-32 – the best bowling figures for the Southern Stars since Betty Wilson’s 6-28 in 1948.
"With her bowling she has also become a lot more threatening," Mott said.
"She's attacking the stumps a hell of a lot more and really asking questions, with quite a dangerous short ball.
"We've got a lot of hard workers in the squad, but she's been balancing her time commitments, she's still playing soccer and she just got married, she's an amazing professional in the way she can manage her time and training effectively and still get results."
While the T20 leg of the series was Perry’s least productive – as it was for many of her teammates, with England taking out the series 2-1 – she top-scored with 30 in the opening loss in Chelmsford before claiming the vital wickets of Lauren Winfield and Nicole Sciver in the second match, taking 2-13 as Australia successfully defended 7-107 and ensured they would take the Women’s Ashes home with them.
Watch: Perry claims to vital scalps
Incredibly, it was the second time Perry had topped both the runs table and wicket-takers in an Ashes series, having already achieved the feat in 2013-14.
While the Belinda Clark Award was based on Perry's performances in the green and gold, the allrounder has also been busy working on yet another discipline this summer, as captain of the Sydney Sixers in the Rebel Women's Big Bash League.
It was a baptism of fire to leadership for Perry, whose Sixers lost their first six matches.
It was also an unusually tough spell for Perry personally, averaging 18 with the bat during that period.
But as she found her way, both with the bat and as skipper, so did the Sixers.
Watch: Southern Stars lift the Ashes
She went on to finish third on the runs table, with 430 at 33.07 including three fifties, while the Sixers embarked on a nine-match winning run that only ended in the final against the Sydney Thunder.
"I think that was probably the best thing about it, in that it (captaincy) was hard work," Mott said.
"Having spoken to her about it, she learned a lot of lessons during that time.
"They were on ground zero at Christmas time and the way they turned it around was pretty inspirational. I think they won a lot of hearts with their tenacity and persistence through the whole campaign."
Watch: Patient Perry guides Sixers home
These new strings to Perry's bow will come in handy, with a busy period coming up for the Southern Stars as they aim to win series against India and New Zealand, before tilt at a fourth-straight Women's World T20 title.