Mitch Perry has been turning heads ever since he was 16 when he was selected at Premier first XI standard with Richmond.
‘It was probably too early. I was very young, but it was also very good for me,’ he said.
His speed, skill and passion was soon noticed by Victoria’s selection chairman Andrew Lynch. But there was one problem: a major one.
How do you fit a kid, no matter how promising, into the most vaunted arsenal of fast bowlers in state ranks?
In March 2020, when Victoria’s final Shield match of the season was abandoned with Covid concerns, the four frontliners were James Pattinson, Chris Tremain, Scott Boland and Peter Siddle. Young Will Sutherland was also in the mix, finishing the season with two ‘five-fors’.
Six months later, with Tremain and Siddle moving interstate and Pattinson unavailable, Victoria’s first-game pace attack was Boland, Perry, Sutherland and Zak Evans.
Perry, then 20, opened with Boland and he was to play the entire Shield season, taking 15 wickets, including eight in back-to-back games against powerful NSW, the second in Sydney where he celebrated his 21st birthday.
He also appeared once for the Melbourne Renegades and four times with Richmond.
Lynch said Sheffield Shield cricket has always been a nursery for Test cricket and tough decisions sometimes have to be made to allow the young ones to progress.
He believes Perry has the ability and drive to be a long-term representative player.
We are thrilled that Mitch has won the Steve Mason award for our Young Cricketer of the Year in 2021. – KP