Allrounder Ellyse Perry suffered a setback Tuesday ahead of ICC Women’s World Cup semi-final against the West Indies, as the Australian superstar’s back troubles ruled her out of contention for the tournament’s first knockout match.

Captain Meg Lanning confirmed the six-time champion Australians would be without Perry, who suffered back spasms during the group stage win over South Africa last week. She had walked off the field then, and then didn’t bat in the second innings (could have if she needed to) and then missed the next match against Bangladesh. Australia had already secured passage into the semifinals by then.

“[Perry] just unfortunately just ran out of time to prove her fitness so we’ll go in without her tomorrow and we’ll keep assessing her if we are to progress in the tournament,” Lanning said on Tuesday from Wellington. “So unfortunate for her and the team obviously, a big blow, but we feel like we’ve got some good depth to be able to cover it and we’re going to have to do that tomorrow.”

But the gap between hasn’t been enough for the superstar, who also heartbreakingly missed the semifinal and final of the T20 World Cup in 2020, to recover fully.

Twenty-year-old all-rounder Annabel Sutherland is likely to replace the accomplished Perry, 31, in Wednesday’s semi-final, as she did against Bangladesh last Friday, when Australia completed a seven-from-seven record in the group stage.

West Indies for their part will be without veteran spinner Afy Fletcher for the match, as confirmed by ICC later on. Stafanie Taylor had said in the press conference a few hours earlier that everyone was available.

The event technical committee of ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup 2022 has approved Mandy Mangru as a replacement for Afy Fletcher in the West Indies squad.

All-rounder Mangru, who has played a solitary ODI for the West Indies against South Africa in Johannesburg last month, is a temporary replacement for Fletcher, who has tested positive for COVID-19 and is undergoing a period of isolation.

A COVID replacement can be temporary, in that once the player has recovered, she would be eligible to return to the squad in position of the travelling reserve that replaced her.

— ICC Media Release

Lanning would not rule Perry out of contention if they qualify for Sunday’s final in Christchurch against either South Africa or England, who clash on Thursday but was cautious to not look far ahead, reiterating a few times that the focus is all on finding a way past ‘dangerous’ West Indies.

“She hasn’t done a lot over the past week. To be fair, she batted a little bit in the nets yesterday and felt okay. But yeah, she certainly just wasn’t in a position, unfortunately, to be able to perform at the level needed tomorrow,” Lanning said.

“So that was why we’ve made the call on that today. But yeah, to be honest, we haven’t looked too far ahead. We will keep assessing her as we go if we are to progress, but the team and squads are very focused on tomorrow and making sure that we’re putting out our best game because everything else is irrelevant, to be honest. So I’m sure there’s work going on in the background to try and get her up to play if we were to get through but from a playing group perspective and coaching staff we’re just really focused on tomorrow, and then the players that are going to be able to go out there and perform.”

Perry claimed figures of 3-22 against the West Indies two weeks ago in a player of the match performance, in a seven-wicket win which was achieved with nearly 20 overs to spare, typical of their dominant performances at the tournament. In the match before, she was player of the match for her batting performance against hosts New Zealand.

Lanning backed Sutherland to step up as she did against Bangladesh, giving the strongest indication that the team are set to retain the same XI from the last group match at the same venue.

“I thought Annabelle played extremely well last game under pressure as well. It wasn’t just an easy time to come out and bat for her and for someone so young to be able to do that gives the group a lot of confidence. And, we’ve spoken a lot about the depth that we’ve got within our squad and I guess now we’re going to be tested with it. So I guess that’s what it comes down to is new players stepping up in different situations and not relying on one or two players,” she said.

Asked if the conversations with Perry have been happening, given what she had to face in 2020, Lanning reiterated that the focus right now is in making sure the team wins the semi-final.

“I’m sure those discussions [with Perry regarding playing the final if Australia go through] will take place if we were to get through. They’re probably already happening behind the scenes, but from my perspective, and [coach Matthew[ Mott and [vice captain] Rachel’s perspective in terms of leadership, it’s really been about focusing on tomorrow and how we’re going to win that game. Because, if we don’t win tomorrow, then it’s all irrelevant,” Lanning said.

“So, we’ve done well to manage it that way. I think the group’s in a really good spot, obviously been aware of what’s been happening with Elyse but also very focused on their individual game and how they can contribute to the team. So yeah, we’ll cross that bridge if we get there.”

(With AFP inputs)