She's a super freak
Ellyse Perry is congratulated by team-mates after getting a wicket during the Women's International Twenty20 cricket match. Photo: Getty
Ellyse Perry is special. That is not in doubt.
To possess enough athletic talent to represent your country at two sports is a rarity, this century in Australia it is indeed unique.
But as it did for men a generation ago, the moment has arrived where Perry’s resolve to continue playing both football and cricket will be tested.
Yesterday’s announcement by Canberra United that Perry had to give up cricket if she wanted to remain with the W-League premiers was a line in the sand. Coach Jitka Klimkova is employed by Canberra United to win, and her expectations - that those players chosen for her squad train to the level she demands – are not unreasonable.
It is spurious to suggest W-League players are not paid enough to turn up at training every day. None of these women is paid enough to even tie their bootlaces, and they never have been.
They play because they dream of wearing the gold shirt of the Matildas. They play because they dream of kicking the goal that wins the World Cup. And they make sacrifices. For others it’s often paid work. For Perry, had it meant enough to her to play for United, it had to be cricket.
Of course she will make no such choice. Not today, anyway. Another club will see the value in having Perry some of the time as Canberra did for three years. And Cricket Australia and Football Federation Australia will continue to work together with Perry to ensure she can do both - lest one of them become the loser.
As much as Klimkova and her boss at United, Heather Reid, kicked the mother of all own goals in their handling of the issue, they have every right to set team rules. As Lisa de Vanna - the Matildas’ most damaging player - put it so succinctly: ‘‘About time someone lifted the professional standards of women’s football.’’
And if Klimkova and Reid are part of the bigger plan to get the Matildas’ golden generation their World Cup success, they were right. But if not, they just gave Sydney FC, or the new Western Sydney club, an almighty free kick.
Perry acknowledged Klimkova’s prerogative to do things her way. But having travelled up and down the highway to Canberra for three years to pitch in for the girls in green when she could, she deserved a fitting send-off. Not an ultimatum.