Sophie Molineux, Ashleigh Gardner, Delissa Kimmince and Megan Schutt may have key roles to play in Ellyse Perry’s absence.
Sophie Molineux, Ashleigh Gardner, Delissa Kimmince and Megan Schutt may have key roles to play in Ellyse Perry’s absence.

Replacing the irreplaceable: How to win without Perry

Her captain has described her as irreplaceable. And indeed Australia have decided against drafting in a direct understudy for their T20 World Cup semi-final meeting with either South Africa or England in Sydney on Thursday.

But the loss of Ellyse Perry is profound. And will necessitate a material change in approach for the rest of the tournament.

 

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Perry's game-ending injury was the only tarnish on an otherwise stellar effort against the Kiwis that saw Australia qualify for the semi-finals, and that victory as much as anything gives hope they can manage her absence.

 

Ellyse Perry will play no further part in the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup.
Ellyse Perry will play no further part in the 2020 Women’s T20 World Cup.

 

 

PERRY'S RECORD

Perry is the world's No. 1 T20 all-rounder but has been battling injury all tournament, struggling firstly with her right shoulder before hurting her hip during Australia's whopping 86-run win again Bangladesh.

Australia have three wins from four group games, (over New Zealand, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh) and one loss (to competition leaders India).

Perry has played in each of the group games, and was uncharacteristically quiet: she batted three times for a combined total of 26 runs (her best score came against NZ of 21 from 15 balls) and has taken one wicket (her best figures were 1/15 from three overs in game one's loss against India).

But for a dynamic player like Perry, what she's done in the past week doesn't matter, it's about what she's routinely capable of in the future.

She's the X-factor, whose very presence puts opponents on the back foot, and that won't be easy to make up for.

Where, then, will the wickets and runs Perry takes with her come from in her absence?

 

Megan Schutt is a weapon for Australia in the powerplay and at the death.
Megan Schutt is a weapon for Australia in the powerplay and at the death.

1. MEGAN SCHUTT

Schutt is the No. 1 T20 bowler in the world and she's enjoying a good World Cup, having, for the first time in her career, had back-to-back hauls of three-fa.

"Shooter" took 3/21 against Bangladesh and backed that up with 3/28 against NZ, taking her tournament total to seven wickets.

Schutt and Perry have become a world-dominating force in the Aussie bowling line-up, either of them generally opening the bowling with the added pressure of the powerplay; Perry the wicket-taking quick and Schutt the economical inswinger shaking batter confidence.

With Perry gone, Schutt will need to continue her already superb World Cup form to not only restrict runs, but take wickets too.

So, who will Schutt team up with to open the bowling? From Monday's line-up against New Zealand, Nicola Carey is the only other pace bowler, with Jess Jonassen, Ashleigh Gardner, and Georgia Wareham all being spin.

 

Delissa Kimmince may be the player to come in and replace Perry in Thursday’s semi-final.
Delissa Kimmince may be the player to come in and replace Perry in Thursday’s semi-final.

2. DELISSA KIMMINCE

A stalwart in Australian colours having debuted in 2008, Kimmince is no stranger to the pressure of international cricket, having taken 37 wickets at the T20I level, from 39 matches.

With quick Tayla Vlaeminck also ruled out of the tournament with a stress fracture in her foot (she was replaced in the Aussie squad by spinner Molly Strano before the World Cup started), the Australians might be relying on Kimmince for her medium pace.

She hasn't played the past two World Cup games, but could very likely be recalled as a direct replacement.

Her best figures for the tournament so far are 1/24 against India on February 21.

 

Ashleigh Gardner’s power hitting will be more valuable than ever in Perry’s absence.
Ashleigh Gardner’s power hitting will be more valuable than ever in Perry’s absence.

 

3. ASHLEIGH GARDNER

Right-handed batter Gardner has scored a total of 78 runs having batted in every innings this World Cup. She will be looking to increase her output with Perry gone.

Beth Mooney, Alyssa Healy and Rachael Haynes have all hit half-centuries this tournament and Gardner would be itching to do the same. But in Perry's absence, all the batters will be looking to make partnerships and take the reliance off the lower-order.

 

Sophie Molineux has battled against her own injury problems in the last few months.
Sophie Molineux has battled against her own injury problems in the last few months.

4. SOPHIE MOLINEUX

Could Molineux make a long-awaited comeback?

Having battled a corked thigh for the entire campaign, the spin bowler could be declared fit and could make an appearance for the finals.

Spin options have been critical for team success this tournament: India's legspinner Poonam Yadav is leading the most-wicket tally with nine.

 

 

This is why Wareham's inclusion in the past two games has been important to Australia's fortunes.

Wareham combined with Schutt for six wickets against New Zealand on Monday, Wareham named Player of the Match for her 3/17 from four overs.

Molineux, if fit, would certainly be in the mix for selection.