Sport From a bare North Sydney Oval to a packed MCG, it's been a huge 10 years for the women's game

01:25  29 november  2019
01:25  29 november  2019 Source:   theage.com.au

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With the Women ' s T20 World Cup 100 days away, it ’ s remarkable how much coverage and support But 100 days out from the March 8 final, it proves how far the game has come to think it is an To think that, 10 years later, we are talking about getting more than 90,000 spectators to the final, and

It ' s beautiful, it ' s historic and I think we really want to own this ground. "We've got the Boxing Day Test match at the MCG , the New Year 's Test at the SCG and I'd love to think that North Sydney Oval is the Australian women ' s cricket ground. "Every year , if we play here, it ' s going to be a special event and

a group of baseball players playing a football game: There were few people watching in the stands at North Sydney Oval in 2009 when a young Ellyse Perry was in action at the ICC Women's World Cup.© Corbis Sport There were few people watching in the stands at North Sydney Oval in 2009 when a young Ellyse Perry was in action at the ICC Women's World Cup.

When I first heard about the aim of filling the MCG for the ICC Women’s T20 World Cup final, I was a bit surprised. I think the biggest crowd I’d ever played in front of was about 20,000 at the SCG. A sold-out MCG seemed a long way off.

But 100 days out from the March 8 final, it proves how far the game has come to think it is an achievable goal.

Early in my career, I went to watch a Women’s World Cup match at North Sydney Oval in 2009. The standard was fantastic but, unfortunately, the venue was bare, with friends and family of the players scattered around the ground. To think that, 10 years later, we are talking about getting more than 90,000 spectators to the final, and potentially millions more watching around the world - it’s remarkable how much the coverage and support has grown.

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From a player's perspective – you have to remain in the moment and not dream too far ahead. The first goal is to be selected in the World Cup squad. Second, we have a very tough group to navigate just to reach the semi-finals.

But we are embracing and acknowledging the significance of the occasion, which falls on International Women’s Day. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to play in a home World Cup final, and I daresay there won’t be any other moments in my career where someone like Katy Perry performs at the game. I think there will be a few additions to the team-bus playlist for the tournament; the girls are buzzing that she’s agreed to join the celebrations.

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I remember a few years ago, Elyse Villani constantly sang Hot n Cold during our recovery in the ice baths and showers. It’s funny to think Perry might sing that very song at a World Cup final we could play in.

The enormity of the opportunity in 2020 made me think back to the start of my cricket journey. Like most, it began as a bit of backyard fun.

Pictures: Cricket stars, then and now

Less than five years ago, I worked at a marketing agency, training after work and juggling my studies around that. I never played with the expectation of being a full-time cricketer; that wasn’t on the radar at all.

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But after a few injuries in the Australia squad, I was selected and held my place. Soon after, Cricket Australia introduced full-time contracts. I haven’t looked back. Compared with many before me, I was selected at a fortunate moment, and consider myself lucky to have been a full-time cricketer for the past three years.

I think most players would have stories about what they had to overcome to get to where they are today. So just talking about attracting 80,000-90,000 spectators is special for us, and vindication of the perseverance and hard work behind the scenes.

We can feel the momentum, but it’s sometimes hard to absorb how fast everything is happening. In the past three months, there has been a new maternity leave policy, an increase in prizemoney and the first stand-alone WBBL season.

When you’re playing, you are consumed by the day-to-day demands of being prepared to perform at your best, so while we realise we are playing at a special time, I don’t think we will fully appreciate it until the years ahead. When we do get an opportunity to draw breath and look back, I reckon we will be amazed by what the game has achieved in such a short space of time.

You feel like you are part of something bigger than yourself and the team, and that is pretty special.

But the job is not done yet. I still feel there is more we can achieve.

The T20 World Cup won’t be an end point for the development of the women’s game, but it is a significant milestone. It's an opportunity to celebrate where we are today and also inspire the next generation, so we can all have equal opportunities.

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