She’s among the world’s top female cricketers at a time when Australian women’s sport is reaching a new zenith, yet Ellyse Perry can walk around the streets almost completely unrecognised.
It’s just past noon on a dark, damp winter Wednesday in Melbourne when Ellyse Perry – possibly the greatest female cricket player in the world – pulls up next to me with a gritty little skid.
“Nice wheels,” she says, smiling and nodding at my old pushie, while sitting atop a brand new gravel bike by Giant. “I didn’t bring my rain jacket,” she adds, glancing up into the grey. “We’d better get moving.”
And so we do, bound for cricket practice and a chat, rolling down the inner-eastern Windsor street she temporarily calls home. It’s lined with paperbark trees shaped like broccoli bunches, and narrow terrace homes with pretty iron lace fronts. Rain falls in thin curtains, and the cloud cover is so swollen that the sky looks like one big soggy doona.
It doesn’t really make sense but Perry – who has blonde hair and blue-green eyes, who smiles with an easy gleam, and who is most recognisable when wearing a bright yellow uniform and a thick smear of white zinc cream across her nose – looks, somehow, precisely the part in this sodden city streetscape. Perhaps it’s the navy shorts, dark hoodie and black helmet, or the way she assuredly tears along this wet cul de sac, ripping through that roundabout, shooting down into that graffitied underpass, over the rotting leaves on the edge of a muddy park and into the entrance of Junction Oval. This is her training base before heading to London where, as the most gifted all-rounder in our world-beating, top-ranked national women’s cricket team, Perry is a pivotal prong in this month’s multi-format battle against England to retain The Ashes…
Photography by Kristoffer Paulsen