???Ellyse Perry's masterful and unbeaten double century rewrote the history books and took Australia to the brink of retaining the Ashes against a forlorn England at North Sydney Oval.
The superstar batted and batted and batted on Saturday, notching her maiden international century in the first session, progressing without error to the dinner break and then advancing to 213 not out from 374 balls before captain Rachael Haynes declared her side's innings closed at 9-448.
A demoralised England showed some late fight in front of 3932 fans and will resume on Sunday at 0-40 after negotiating a tricky 17 overs under lights, during which Alyssa Healy spilled a tough chance behind the stumps from Tammy Beaumont off Amanda-Jade Wellington's teasing leg spin.
But this day will forever be remembered as the Perry show. She had several partners along the way and enjoyed century stands with good mate Healy (45) and debutant Tahlia McGrath (47) before No.11 Megan Schutt played her role at the end and coaxed her through the magical 200 barrier.
"It was fun, I think that's probably the best way to describe it," Perry said.
"I had an amazing time out there today batting with all the girls and just taking in what was such a special day - the crowd attendance, it being the pink day, day three, just a really great event for women's cricket."
The standing ovation she received after dispatching Sophie Ecclestone to the boundary with a trademark straight drive was her second of the evening.
In the previous over, while on 194, Perry clobbered a ball over mid-wicket and initially celebrated thinking she had cleared the rope.
It had fallen agonisingly short and the celebrations were put on ice, but only momentarily. Perry worked a single, Schutt survived the last two balls of the over and moments later the crowd was back on their feet when Ecclestone was hit to the boundary.
"It came out of the middle OK, but the crowd just completely fooled me," Perry said.
"I lost sight of it as it went over. There's a little bit of a drop off where the boundary is so I didn't really see where it landed. The guys on the hill kind of cheered like it was six, so I just went with it.
"It wasn't until all my theatrics finished that the umpires mentioned they were checking to see whether it went for six.
"I kind of felt like, well, it's already happened once so I'm not particularly fazed what happens after it. Whether I got a fake two hundred or a real one didn't really matter at that stage."
Perry is just the seventh double centurion in women's Test cricket and her knock was the third highest of all time.
It was the highest Test score in Australia and beat Karen Rolton's previous mark of 209 not out as the best innings by an Australian.
Perry is also the only sportsperson to have scored a Test century and scored a goal at a soccer World Cup.
Australia's 9-448 was the eighth highest score in Tests and the third most by an Australian side.
When England finally came back to the crease for the second time this match, they were 168 runs in arrears and facing a final day of survival to retain any hope of winning the Ashes.
Should Australia win the Test, they'll take an unassailable lead in the series and the urn will remain in their keeping.
Perry's fine knock was as important as it was exquisite.
Australia slumped to 3-61 on day two and resumed on Saturday at 5-177, still needing 103 runs to reach parity with England.
When play resumed Perry was on 70 and immediately played with purpose, looking to up the sluggish run rate that had been a theme of the match to that point.
When she tucked one away to fine leg for four and reached her century, she enjoyed an emotional embrace with Healy.
"We've played cricket together since we were about nine years old," Perry said. "I very much consider Midge [Healy] a sister. It was very special to be out there with her and to share that with her.
"More than anything I thought she batted exceptionally well last night and again this morning and really set the tone for us. We got some momentum back early on which was great."
???This was a watershed moment for Perry, a maiden international century more than a decade in the making, and it came on Test cricket's biggest stage.
Prior to her latest knock she had passed 50 on 28 occasions for Australia, an unbeaten 95 her previous best.
Twenty four of those have been in one-day international cricket, and she's the only cricketer in the world to have scored five-consecutive ODI half centuries on three different occasions. Virat Kohli and Kane Williamson have done so twice.
After reaching the ton, Perry reset, and not once looked like leaving her post.
The pitch has been playing a little slow and the outfield at North Sydney Oval certainly hasn't been as quick as it once was. Her innings was one of application, patience and dedication, and came after she opened the bowling in England's first innings and took three wickets.
She remains the team's most important resource and, somewhat frighteningly for opposition teams, appears to only be improving with age.
"She batted very well, very patient innings, stuck to her game plan and gave us pretty much no chances," England captain Heather Knight said.
"It was one of the best innings I've seen in an Ashes Test match and she's put the game in their favour.
"I can't fault the way the girls tried today. They tried everything on what was obviously a very flat pitch and the ball went very soft and made it very difficult for us."
The story Perry racks up unbeaten double ton with Australia in command first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.