HAPPY F ATHERS’ DAY!

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - BEN HORNE

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

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