The Australian women's cricket coach has brushed off concerns around Ellyse Perry after the superstar allrounder made her long-awaited return from injury this week.
All eyes were on Perry as she made her international return after more than a year out with a hamstring injury, during Australia's six-wicket comeback win against New Zealand in the opening Twenty20 match of the series.
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However, it was fellow Aussie Ash Gardner who stole the show after rescuing the visitors from a top-order collapse with a match-winning 73 not out.
Perry made 23 not out with the bat in an encouraging first innings back after her long hiatus but it was the decision not to bowl the 30-year-old that raised many eyebrows.
Aussie captain Meg Lanning did not throw Perry the ball once during New Zealand's innings of 6-130, marking the first time the allrounder had not been used as a bowler in a T20 since 2015.
It wasn't a good look after Perry's T20 future had recently been called into question by Australian great Lisa Sthalekar.
Coach Matthew Mott brushed aside the surprising bowling snub amid concerns the Aussies were concerned about overburdening Perry after her return from injury.
“Nothing much to read into,” Mott told foxsports.com.au.
“Had seven bowlers and Tayla (Vlaeminck) and Nicola (Carey) just bowled really well in the middle overs.
“She is good to go.”
World champions Australia were contesting their first international series in six months after emerging just 24 hours earlier from a two-week quarantine in Christchurch - and it showed during a nightmare start to their run chase.
Australia's batters looked like they needed to blow off some cobwebs as they dramatically stumbled to 2-3 and 3-14 after being set 131 for victory.
However, Australia showed why they haven't lost a T20 series since late 2017 by regrouping to cruise to 4-133 with 12 balls to spare thanks to Gardner's 48-ball knock.
Aussies glad to have Perry back
Gardner rode her luck in the three-game series opener after being dropped on 30, thrashing six fours and three sixes - including two straight maximums off leggie Amelia Kerr - to notch her fourth T20 half century.
Perry was still able to turn heads on Sunday.
She shared an unbeaten 71-run fifth-wicket stand with Gardner, finishing on 23 not out off 16 balls after hitting the winning runs.
Lanning was just grateful to have Perry back.
"She has obviously missed a little bit of cricket but she has a lot of experience - it's nice to have her back," said Lanning, who hit a run-a-ball 28 after a life on 24.
Lanning saluted her team's fightback but admitted there was plenty of room for improvement.
"I think we are a little bit rusty," she said.
Perry suffered another setback on her troublesome right hamstring during Australia's last international outing in September, when New Zealand visited.
But speaking last week before the most recent series got underway, Perry said she was just excited to be back amongst her teammates - even if it was in quarantine.
"I'm especially excited. I think we all are in a lot of respects," she said.
"I haven't played in 12 months but the girls have only played once in that 12 months as well ... they are few and far between international matches at the moment."
Australia's second T20 match against New Zealand gets underway on Tuesday in Napier.
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