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When the ‘golden girl’ label was first bandied about it was for the likes of Shane Gould, Dawn Fraser and Cathy Freeman – legends, sure, but none of them have achieved the pinnacle in two sports.

That term could have been reserved exclusively for Ellyse Perry, the first and only woman to have played in World Cups in two sports, cricket and football. The smiling speedster is a bona fide marketing machine, not that you want to put it to her that way.

The closest to prickly the media-savvy fast bowler gets during TNT’s chat is when we broach the third aspect of her career – while passion for her two sports, playing for the Southern Stars in cricket and Sydney FC and the Matildas in football is clear, we dared wonder if she enjoyed or endured the trappings of being so ‘sellable’ an asset to her sports. A poor word choice for a hugely talented sportsperson who, well, is obviously attractive (not that you’re allowed to say it).

Trooper: Perry battled through ankle agony in the World Cup final

“Probably not so much when you phrase it like that,” Perry says, with an awkward laugh. “For me I’m involved in two things I really enjoy. But the success I’ve had is only down to the team’s success. So from that point of view, I’m happy to enjoy playing, that’s first and foremost, and the other stuff is a nice offshoot.”

The success Perry refers to over the past 12 months for the Southern Stars, featuring her among a host of shining lights, has been immense. They won the 50-over World Cup this year to add to the Twenty20 title they took in 2012. They arrived in the UK last week to defend the Women’s Ashes, a title Perry says matches the World titles.

“I think it’s no different to the men, in terms of the significance of it,” Perry says. “It’s certainly alongside the World Cups, but there’s something special about a women’s Test match, because we don’t play them that often.

“As someone who just loves cricket, a Test is the ultimate. So certainly to play one for your country is wonderful. The different challenges make it all the more special.”

The speedy defender

While women’s cricket has never enjoyed the profile it does now, women’s Ashes have been played since 1934/35, with Australia winning seven series to England’s four – seven have been drawn. That’s 18 series. For the first time this year, starting Sunday with a Test over four days at scenic Wormsley in Buckinghamshire, the Ashes title will also incorporate three one-dayers and three T20s, with points allocated for each format (see below for more).

Perry expects to be at her full 120kmph pace come day one in Wormsley, after soldiering on through a clearly painful ankle injury during the World Cup in India – it required surgery and then she suffered an infection, setting the recovery back further. “It’s been a fairly slow process since I got the injury to where I’ve come now but it’s been a nice few months now and I’m ready,” she says.

Perhaps to show the boys a thing or two? This was asked the day before the third Test began at Old Trafford and Australia finally showed some fight to end the day 3-303 with a century to captain Michael Clarke. Being an international cricketer since she was 16, the same year she debuted for Oz in football, Perry clearly knows more than TNT.


Girl on fire: Aussie cricket and football rep Ellyse Perry is raring to retain the Women's Ashes
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