STAGE: WORLD CUP FINAL
SCENARIO: Australia 259/7 in 50 overs. West Indies 32/0 from 9 overs
A 22-year-old youngster runs in to bowl her first delivery of the match. Oh, she has pulled out of her stride midway. She is feeling her ankle. It looks like she isn’t fit enough to even reach the bowling mark, let alone actually delivering a ball. She tries again and aborts yet again. The fielding team is looking tense. The captain gives a worried look to her teammates, calculating how she could fill in 10 overs which were supposed to be bowled by her strike bowler and perhaps even regretting her selection of an “unfit” player for the big occasion. Adding salt to the wounds, the replacement of this youngster, Holly Ferling, had performed well in the Super Six league stages.
However, this youngster somehow has never been taught to give up. Surpassing pain and agony, she comes in steaming in her third attempt and finally ends up with a World Cup winning spell of 3-2-2-3.
This special youngster is Ellyse Perry, one of the strike bowlers of the Australian Women’s Cricket Team. Her captain, Jordi Fields, deserves a lot of credit for her performance as she took risk of playing her in the semi finals and finals in place of Holly Ferling and encouraging Ellyse which pumped her up to deliver one of the best spells in the game.
It is often said that sports are as much about mental strength as about physical strength. However, Ellyse showed how mental strength can overpower the problems that you have to face time and again. Ellyse rose to the occasion in the semi-finals and finals, putting in impressive bowling efforts, taking no time to recover from injuries and even taking pain killing injections to bowl through pain. It is worth considering her past which has made her such a strong individual. She is one of the few sportsperson to have represented their country in more than one sport as she represents Australia in football too. She became the youngest person – male or female – to represent Australia in cricket at just 16. As glittering as it sounds, her journey has been full of trials and tribulations.
Last year, a clash between the national football finals and Australia’s one-day series with New Zealand led to Perry’s Canberra United coach giving her an ultimatum to choose between the sports.
Perry simply changed her football club.
Even that didn’t entirely solve the issue. Shortly before leaving for the 2013 World Cup, Perry was faced with the dilemma of her new football club Sydney FC’s W-League semi-final and New South Wales’s Twenty20 final being on the same day. This time she chose football.
Even after winning the World Cup, Perry isn’t shying away from soccer practices. She will be visiting her doctor to get treatment for her injury so that she could turn up for her football camps under the new Australian Soccer Coach Hesterine de Reus; at a time when her cricketing teammates are enjoying a well deserved break.
In an age where sportsperson are quitting sports owning to stress related illness, Ellyse has maintained the balance between two sports is an astonishing manner. To add the cherry on the top, she is only 22!
Ellyse even presents shows on radio and television where she tries to unearth new football talent, though she still many years left in her to play the game. In June 2010, Perry began her media career by hosting the soccer-related show “Football Stars of Tomorrow”.
Ellyse hopes for a day when women sportsperson become so popular that the fans long to see them entertain as they do for her football and cricket male counterparts. She knows that she will have to choose between cricket and football which is as difficult as it is for a mother to choose between her two children. However, she is positive that one such day, many woman sportsperson would get the right dues they deserve and would not have to search for alternate career options once they retire as Ellyse is doing by pursuing a socio-economic degree as a post retirement career option. Little does she realize, she has started creating a brand image of her own, a brand which both football and cricket would hate to lose.
Indeed, it will take a while before the Women cricketers and footballers get the same recognition and stardom as their male counterparts. The day that happens, Ellyse Perry will be hailed as one of the greatest legends to have played both the sports.
Till then, thank you, Ellyse Perry for entertaining us with magical performances that meant a lot more than just World Cup winning efforts.
Check our Tokyo Olympics Coverage here!