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An exceptional athlete can challenge sporting perceptions

As the Ashes series cranks up Down Under, a comment today upon the exceptional innings of 213 not out by Australia’s Ellyse Perry in the recent women’s Ashes series Test match (the series comprising a series of ODIs, T20 games and a single Test match – taken together, decided by a ‘weighted’ points scoring system).

Without doubt Perry, 27 and five feet 7 and a half inches, is a special and versatile sports star.

She is also married to Matt Toomua, the Australian rugby union international.

A right-hand bat and fast-medium bowler, she was fast-tracked into the Australian cricket elite, making her ODI debut for Australia against New Zealand on 22nd July 2007 at the age of just 16 and eight months, never previously having played in a single adult female first class match of any description.

She made her Test debut on 15th February 2008 at the age of 17 years and 3 months.

She has currently played 7 Tests, 91 ODIs and 82 T20 matches for Australia.

She is also an Australian soccer international, playing as a defender. She made her international debut against Hong Kong in an Olympic qualifying match on 4th August 2007 at the age of 16 years and nine months, less than a fortnight after her international cricket debut, and scored a goal in the second minute.

In 2011 Perry became the first Australian female to represent her country at World Cups in two different sports.

To date she has played 18 times for Australia ( 3 international goals) and currently plays her club soccer for Sydney FC.

According to Wikipedia, the Australian women’s football coach Hesterine de Reus recently announced that Perry would not be selected for the Matildas again because she was unable to confirm that soccer would be her main priority. Hitherto in her career, when football and cricket commitments have clashed, Perry has sometimes opted to play football and sometimes cricket.

Today an article by Geoff Lemon appears on the website of The Guardian which is worth a read. Ostensibly it is about the wider existential threat to Test cricket in both the men’s and women’s game, but it’s ironic how sometimes one can come across a piece and perceive it as something quite different from what the author perhaps intended.

On my first reading of Lemon’s article, I thought he was working around to the suggestion that women shouldn’t play Test cricket, but that maybe exceptional female exponents like Ellyse Perry should switch across into the men’s game!





About Tom Hollingworth

Tom Hollingsworth is a former deputy sports editor of the Daily Express. For many years he worked in a sports agency, representing mainly football players and motor racing drivers. Tom holds a private pilot’s licence and flying is his principal recreation. More Posts