The Australian women’s cricket team is set to play its first home international matches since winning its sixth T20 World Cup, retaining the Ashes for a fifth consecutive series and ending an eight-year drought in Test format.
The group’s sustained success as the world’s number one team should be enough to draw crowds for its upcoming white-ball series against the West Indies which begins on Sunday, but organizers still hope to capitalize on the country’s ever-growing interest in the sport feminine. the back of the FIFA Women’s World Cup.
The major football tournament was a resounding success with the Australian public and traveling supporters, as attendance and viewing records fell during the competition.
Although our national cricket team experienced a similar type of support throughout their home T20 World Cup campaign in 2020, culminating in a game-changing crowd of 86,174 for the final against India at the MCG , the pandemic quickly put the country on lockdown. subsequently, unfortunately, some of this momentum was lost.
Beyond the crowds and the huge buy-in from what seemed like every Australian, the Matildas campaign and the FIFA World Cup in general was also described as a commercial success.
It was the first tournament to break even for the sport’s global governing body, while Nike recorded unprecedented demand for Australian jerseys, outselling the previous edition of the World Cup 13 times to one. .
We wonder how dual international Ellyse Perry felt watching all this from the sidelines.
As someone who made her debut in both sports at the age of 16 in 2007, first in cricket and then football within the space of two weeks, does she regret her decision to ultimately choose cricket once competition schedules become too busy?
“No, not at all, from a personal point of view I had an incredible experience and opportunity to play two sports for a while before both became full-time professionals and I think the fact that “It’s happened in cricket and football, as well as the rise of other sports and the opportunities for women is just brilliant,” Perry told ABC Sport.
“Everything happened at the right time for me and it’s really nice to just be a fan and share that experience with all the other people around the country who were really excited about the World Cup, because it was just a truly special time in sport and I probably feel like every other Australian when I watch the Matildas play now; they are phenomenal athletes, incredibly entertaining and engaging.
“I just want them to do well, in many ways I think football is one of the last frontiers for Australia because it’s not a sport that we’ve generally had huge success in and girls achieving it. a lot of things in a truly global sport – there’s nothing like it – it’s really cool.
This question may seem silly to cricket fans, who are keenly aware of how much Perry has achieved since she played her last match for the Matildas in 2013 and began moving towards a career in this sport alone.
Over the past decade, Perry has won four T20 World Cups, one ODI World Cup, a Commonwealth Games gold medal and achieved the third highest score in the history of women’s Test cricket ( 213*).
And while the market value and status of Matildas captain Sam Kerr has probably caught up to be on par with Perry these days, Perry has been able to ply his trade from home for the most part, earning a decent salary in the WBBL and WNCL, while his Matildas counterparts had to go in search of a professional salary abroad.
In many ways, cricket is well ahead of football in this regard, not only in terms of money on offer here in Australia, but also internationally, with the ICC announcing equal prize money for its future events in July. In comparison, the recent FIFA tournament saw women rewarded a third of what male players compete for.
There is also important context to be gained from Australia’s team rankings in each sport, with our national women’s cricket team more likely to be favorites to win the top prize at competitive World Cups compared to eight to ten teams, rather than a tenth or an 11th ranked team against 32 teams during the major football tournament.
If there was ever a more viable option, for now at least, it’s cricket.
Returning to Kerr and the huge profile she now has globally, Perry recalls playing alongside the backflipper forward at the 2011 FIFA World Cup in Germany – where the latter is technically yet the last Matildas star to score in the quarter-final of the tournament.
“I’ve played with quite a few girls on this team, so it’s nice to still have that bond there, but man, they’re all so talented and some of the younger girls are coming up too, it’s great to see the depth of Australian football and The opportunities they now have to play overseas at well supported and resourced clubs really makes me excited about the future.
“I’m a huge fan of Sam Kerr, like everyone else, and I guess with the way she’s become the athlete that she is now and the person and leader that she is as well, she’s obviously a essential part of the Matildas, but also really important to the sport in general.
“For us to have an Australian with such a reputation in football, probably one of the only sports we are not synonymous with, is an incredible achievement… Of all Sam’s achievements, I think it’s something something Australia is really proud of.”
Leading up to the Matildas’ best performance of the World Cup against France in the quarter-finals, where the teams were drawn and had to be separated on penalties, a clip of Perry scoring against Sweden at the same stage of the 2011 edition. the tournament has gone around.
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It was a nice reminder of Perry’s achievements in her past football life, and came as a surprise to the athlete herself, who was unaware she still held this record and only vaguely remembers scoring the goal.
“I had no idea, there have been a few World Cups since then and it was a very different era and level of competition. I think the older I get the more realistic I am about the fact that it s This is a crossing that occurred rather than a shooting.
“I remember that game more because of the few goals I scored in the back of the net, rather than the one against Sweden, but it was a great moment. I mean, I loved being part of it and it It was a truly incredible experience..
“It would have been one of my first times in front of a really big crowd, because I think there were 30-odd thousand people for that quarter-final, so I have a lot of good memories.”
Perry is expected to return for the green and gold this weekend in the first T20 International at the North Sydney Oval against the West Indies after a short hiatus due to left knee soreness which saw her miss a match against the Ireland in July and The Hundred competition in Great Britain.
When asked to point out a player to watch, Perry said West Indies captain Hayley Matthews would be difficult to stop after winning the Caribbean Women’s Premier League.
Listen to the match live and free on the ABC Listen app, Sunday from 12pm AEDT.