Sport Writer Sophie Utteridge reports on Birmingham Phoenix’s acquisition of international star Ellyse Perry for The Hundred
Ahead of the first season of The Hundred, Birmingham Phoenix are looking to dominate early with the huge signing of Australian all-rounder Ellyse Perry. As the ICC’s Women’s Cricketer of the Decade and a five-time T20 World Cup winner, Perry is a brilliant addition to an already strong squad. Joining England stars Amy Jones and Georgia Elwiss, number 1 ranked T20I player Sophie Devine, and fellow Australian Ashleigh Gardener, Perry completes Birmingham Phoenix’s line-up ahead of the competition – the first Women’s Hundred team to complete their squad.
The signing has already made Perry the face of Birmingham Phoenix and puts them in serious contention to be the inaugural winners of The Hundred. Head Coach Ben Sawyer has made it no secret the importance of Perry to the team’s plans for the summer. Having previously worked with Perry at Sidney Sixers in the Women’s Big Bash League (WBBL) and in Australia’s ruthless victory over England in the 2019 Ashes, Sawyer and Perry’s partnership has already proved deadly to any competition. ‘Ellyse is a world-class cricketer who would improve any team and we are thrilled that she will be turning out for us at Birmingham Phoenix this summer,’ Sawyer said. ‘I’ve been lucky to work with her over a number of years and I know her quality and work-ethic will be a huge asset to us and the whole competition.’
The Birmingham Phoenix team was already looking formidable with three England internationals in Birmingham-born wicket keeper Amy Jones, spinner Kirstie Gordan and all-rounder Georgia Elwiss. In addition to their other international stars, Birmingham Phoenix have also drawn cricketers from their original Birmingham Bears squad. Well-known names such as Marie Kelly and up-and-coming pace bowler Issy Wong are also named in the team, showing off Phoenix’s pool of talent. ‘We’re a team with a lot of leaders, with a lot of experience at the highest level and some exceptionally talented players,’ Sawyer declared. ‘To have [Perry] involved…in Birmingham Phoenix, is invaluable and I think she’ll be a huge asset for us.’
Perry coming to Birmingham is not only brilliant for Phoenix, but also for The Hundred itself. With much speculation around the new format, it is safe to say that the competition needs to make an explosive start. Big signings like Perry will definitely help that cause.
Beth Barrett-Wild, the head of the Women’s Hundred, agreed that Perry’s signing is a huge step for the competition. ‘Ellyse’s participation in the Hundred shows that the competition continues to attract the best players from around the world,’ she stated. ‘By showcasing the most talented female cricketers on the planet, on a big stage, alongside the men, we have an opportunity to continue to normalise cricket as a sport for women and girls, helping to inspire the next generation of players and fans.’ Perry herself agreed, making it clear how much she enjoyed seeing women’s cricket as very much equal to men’s cricket in The Hundred. She said: ‘With 100 balls per side it’s going to be really exciting to play in. I’m looking forward to helping introduce a new generation to cricket and hopefully inspiring them to pick up a bat and ball themselves.’
The summer looks set to showcase some fantastic new domestic cricket after a very long break. Perry’s signing to Birmingham Phoenix has definitely created an air of anticipation for the competition. Players and fans eagerly await July’s opening matches to begin what is sure to be a brilliant summer of cricket.