HAPPY F ATHERS’ DAY!
IT’S Father’s Day and Australia is celebrating Ellyse Perry’s new surrogate dad.
Perry’s move to Victoria earlier this year to be with World Cupbound Wallaby husband Matt Toomua came with one significant problem. Perry’s father, Mark, her dedicated personal coach who has donated his arm to science by tirelessly throwing her balls since she was five, would not be relocating.
“I don’t know how many balls he’s thrown me,” says Perry, probably the only batter on this earth to have faced more balls than throwdown robot Steve Smith,
“I’m nearly 29. If you tallied that up over 24 years, it’d be a serious amount. Long, long hours.”
But into this enormous breach has stepped a new parent for punishment: former Sri Lankan international Dulip Samaraweera.
As he puts it, Perry rry doesn’t bat minutes. s. Or even hours. “She e bats days.”
“Before she went to England this year, we did a session called ‘Test Match Thursday’,” said Samaraweera, 47, the assistant coach of the Melbourne Stars women’s ’ Bi Big Bash side now based with Cricket Victoria.
“She batted from 9am to 11.30 then had a break. Came back and batted 1pm to 3. Then had a break and came back and batted again,”
Perry averaged a seriesdefining 94.5 during the Ashes, including a landmark maiden Test century on English soil to stamp her authority as the best batter in the women’s game.
According to good judges such as Kerry O’Keeffe, she is more technically proficient than anyone in men’s cricket.
“I’ve never seen anyone with that kind of discipline,” Samaraweera says. “She is technically perfect.
“I told her, ‘Can you start writing a book? Because one day you’re going to leave this sport and people need to know what is in your head’.”
But how is Samaraweera’s “dad bod” holding up to the workload spike? “I seriously don’t feel a thing,” he says. “I physically don’t feel it. Becau Because all I see is pure class.”
A All Perry knows is sh she arrived in Victoria w with a warning.
“A number of staff at Cricket V Victoria were w whispering I was g going to send Dulip int into shoulder surgery prett pretty quickly if I wasn’t careful,” says Perry. “B “But t D Dulip li h has been absolutely incredible to work with. It was really nice moving to Melbourne knowing he would be there.”
Samaraweera’s first encounter with Perry, he estimates, was nearly a decade ago when she was a fast bowler, batting at No.6 or 7 in the Australian side.
“It was a throwdown session, the same stuff as what she did with her dad, and she came and asked me, ‘What do you think?’” he says.
“I said, ‘The only thing I have to say to you is, I can see in your batting you have a Test hundred in you’.”
She duly obliged. Her 213 double Test century against England in November 2017 is the highest score in the history of the women’s game, and Samaraweera is adamant that if women played as much Test cricket as their male counterparts, she would sit in the same pantheon as the likes of Bradman, Tendulkar, Waugh and Lara with north of 30 hundreds to her name.
Much like Steve Smith’s transformation into a run-making colossus, Perry made her debut for Australia as a bowler.
According to Samaraweera, Virat Kohli and Perry, are now interchangeable as cricket’s No.1 and No.2 run-masters.
Perry is one of women’s sport’s true trailblazers alongside Sam Kerr and Ash Barty — two women she shares six degrees of separation with after her time in football and Barty’s spell in the Big Bash.
She wants Australia to play Test cricket against nations other than England and she has called on India to see the light and establish a women’s IPL after the brutal snubbing of Australian players by the BCCI earlier this year.
Ellyse Perry, (inset) her parents Mark and Kathy and (far left) batting coach Dulip Samaraweera. Picture: Sam Ruttyn