The Aussie has played ICC and FIFA world cups making her the only sportswoman to play both cricket and football world cups
We often get inspired by hearing about athletes playing two sports at the top level. The stories of cricketers like Jhonty Rhodes, Andrew Flintoff and Adam Holliiake who played two sports are an inspiration for others. But these players had to sacrifice one sport to prevail in the other.
There is one female athlete who has represented her country in two sports. It is Ellyse Perry, who represented Australia both in cricket and football. She played ICC and FIFA world cups making her the only sportswoman to play both cricket and football world cups.
Perry remained a dual-sport international professional for six years, playing international-level football and cricket until 2013. After that she decided to hang her football boots to focus on cricket.
In my opinion, this decision might have been made due to the fame, financial viability, laurels and far-reaching opportunities a player gets in Australia by playing cricket rather than football.
While giving an interview to The Roar in 2018, Perry talked about withdrawing from professional football. “Essentially, both sports have developed so much in the last couple of years that they really demand people to be full time professional athletes,” she said.
The game of cricket faced scarcity of women cricketers who could inspire a generation of young females in pursuing sports as their livelihood. But Perry’s star-studded figure and presence could prove to be the x-factor in inspiring young female players in the years to come, especially in a country like Pakistan where the female interest in pursuing cricket as a profession is very low.
In this piece let’s pierce through her remarkable sporting journey in which she has already re-written so many record books just at the age of 30.
In cricket, Perry can rightly be called the jack of all trades being an incredible all-rounder with the ability to win matches.
She made her debut in 2007 for Australia both in football and cricket at the age of just 16. She could enthrall the audience with her dazzling skills, could produce moments of sheer magic and snatch victory from the jaws of defeat.
Ellyse showed the signs of her greatness when she bowled a jaw dropping last over against New Zealand in the cut-throat 2010 World T20 final, defending 14 runs. The Kiwis needed a four on the last ball to force a super over. Sophie Divine played a dead straight drive destined to reach the fence, but Perry in her follow-through used her soccer skill-set by putting the right foot to deflect the ball to mid-on as Aussies romped to a monumental three-run finale win with Perry adjudged man of the match.
Other than that, she is the only player to register 1000 runs and 100 wickets in T20s and also holds the record of the highest score by an Australian in Tests - she scored 213* in an Ashes en-counter.
Being a central part in Australia’s five World T20 titles and the 2013 World Cup, Perry clinched several ICC awards as well as Wisden awards.
Her career in football as a defender was also not without amazing skill displays as she scored a goal in the second minute of her debut match for Australia against Hong Kong. Her stunning goal in the 2011 FIFA women’s world cup quarter-final match against Sweden was a picture-perfect sight as she curled the ball with the left foot from the right wing area beautifully.
She represented Canberra United FC for three stints 2009-12 with 24 appearances winning a W-League Championship in 2011-12. In 2012, she was given an ultimatum by the Chief Executive to either quit cricket or leave the club. As a result, she joined Sydney FC where Perry played for the three years. Later she was named in Sydney FC’s in 2016 but withdrew due to conflict of 2016 World T20.
Perry’s career has been nothing less than a folklore having played both demanding sports at the top for almost a decade. And given her current form in cricket, it is clear that she will leave an everlasting impact upon the entire sporting world.