Perry double ton fires Australia on top

Ellyse Perry’s maiden Test double-hundred put Australia Women in a commanding position against England after the third day of the Women’s day-night Ashes Test in Sydney on Saturday.

Perry’s unbeaten 213 helped Australia reach a competitive 448 for 9 declared, for a 168-run lead.

At stumps, England was 40 for 0 in 17 overs, trailing by 128 runs going into the final day.

It was Perry’s first century for Australia in any format. She became the first Australian woman to score a double-hundred in her own backyard and is now a part of an elite list of female cricketers to have double-centuries in Test cricket.

Resuming on 177 for 5, Perry anchored the innings, picking gaps at ease. Alyssa Healy had two sixes and five fours in her 45, adding 102 with Perry in a strong first session for the home side before miscuing a Laura Marsh delivery straight to the hands of Anya Shrubsole at mid-off.

Tahlia McGrath, on debut, was lucky to enjoy a reprieve on zero after Heather Knight grassed a low catch at extra cover. That drop proved costly as she added 103 for the seventh wicket with Perry to help Australia extend the lead. McGrath made a valuable 47 before being caught by Natalie Sciver off Georgia Elwiss, the medium pacer.

The focus was solely on Perry, who kept her stout resistance going. After holding fort on the second day with a firm 70, Perry started off cautiously. Once she crossed the three-figure mark, she unleashed an array of jabs, drives and cuts. The only time Australia looked quiet was when Elwiss and Marsh, the offspinner, kept Perry and McGrath’s scoring rate in check with their deceptive variations.

Perry also found an able partner in Jess Jonassen, who chipped in with a 39-ball 24 as Australia breached the 400-run mark. Jonassen would be Marsh’s third wicket of the innings.

There were a few nervous moments as Perry inched closer to her maiden double-century with No.11 Megan Schutt blocking everything in front of her pad.

Perry, then batting on 194, launched a Sophie Ecclestone delivery in the 165th over to deep midwicket. Believing it to be a six, she raised both arms in celebration as the crowd joined in.

The celebrations though were cut short when replays confirmed that the ball pitched just inside the rope, leaving her needing two more runs. She finally reached her landmark with a straight drive, and followed it up with a few meaty blows to finish unbeaten on 213 when Australia declared.

For England, Marsh and Sophie Ecclestone, the left-arm spinner, shared three wickets apiece. Katherine Brunt, Shrubsole and Elwiss, the pacers, claimed a wicket each.

In reply, Lauren Winfield (12 not out off 60 balls) and Tammy Beaumont (25 not out off 42 balls) set the tone for the tourists with Beaumont taking the aggressive route.