Cricket - Ellyse Perry
Ellyse Perry, arguably the most recognisable face in women's cricket, will be in action at 'The Hundred.' Image Credit: Twitter

Kolkata: The inaugural edition of English cricket’s Hundred, set to kick off on July 21, staged a coup by signing up Australia allrounder Ellyse Perry - one of the reigning divas of women’s cricket.

Perry, recently named the International Cricket Council’s Women’s Player of the Decade, will play for Birmingham Phoenix in the new and fun 100-balls-per-side competition, conceptualised by England & Wales Cricket Board (ECB).

The 30-year-old, currently on top of the One-day International allrounder rankings, will join a Phoenix side that also features New Zealand’s Sophie Devine, who is at the summit of the corresponding T20 rankings.

Perry is eager to play in The Hundred, which features eight franchises - all with men’s and women’s teams. “I can’t wait to come over to the UK and get involved in The Hundred this summer,” she said on Thursday.

“It’s fantastic to see how it’s put women’s cricket in the spotlight and attracted so many of the world’s top players to come and play in it. With 100 balls per side, it’s going to be really exciting to play in and I’m looking forward to helping introduce a new generation to cricket and hopefully inspiring them to pick up a bat and ball themselves.”

Perry was named as one of Wisden’s Five Cricketers of the Decade in December 2019 and is closing in on 5,000 runs and 300 wickets for Australia across all formats of international cricket.

A number of her Australian teammates will play in The Hundred, including Meg Lanning (Welsh Fire) and Alyssa Healy (Northern Superchargers), while West Indies captain Stafanie Taylor (Southern Brave) and South Africa skipper Dane van Niekerk (Invincibles) are also involved.

“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, as much as it is for men and boys. I truly believe that The Hundred will be a gamechanger for women’s sport,” Beth Barrett-Wild, Head of The Hundred Women’s Competition, told Sky Sports.

Charlotte Edwards, a legend in women’s cricket and now head coach of Southern Brave, says: ‘‘The Hundred launching with a women’s match shows the game is now on par with men’s cricket.

She said: “It is always important for the future of the sport to continue to bring in new fans.''

What is The Hundred?

The Hundred is a professional franchise 100-ball cricket tournament in England and Wales run by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB). Originally scheduled to start in the summer of 2020, it was postponed to 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Rules of the game

* It’s 100 balls per innings, whoever scores the most runs wins.

* The fielding side change ends after 10 balls.

* Bowlers deliver either five or 10 consecutive balls. The captain decides.

* Each bowler can deliver a maximum of 20 balls per game.