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Jun, 7, 2011

Cricket success boosts Matildas

Australia will send its youngest squad to this month's FIFA Women's World Cup in Germany, but one of the Matildas is already a world champion.

Dual international Ellyse Perry was a member of Australia's World Cup winning Twenty20 women's squad in the Caribbean last year, playing a pivotal role as the Southern Stars defeated New Zealand in the final.

Now the talented 20-year-old is one of the 21-strong Matildas squad preparing to take on the world in Germany and Perry was understandably excited about reaching the pinnacle in both her chosen sports.

"To be given this opportunity is just fantastic for me, purely from the perspective that I absolutely love playing football as much as I love playing cricket," Perry said on Wednesday.

"Having had that experience with cricket and also winning a World Cup I know how great that is and how enjoyable that is.

"To be involved in this team now, in a football World Cup, is really special and something I'm tremendously excited about."

Having named a squad with an average age just under 22, Matildas coach Tom Sermanni said Perry's tournament experience in cricket would be a benefit to the team as they prepare to tackle Brazil, Norway and Equatorial Guinea in their World Cup group.

"I think that helps in dealing with the pressures you have to deal with at that level but I think playing two high-level sports also helps in a lot of other areas, in relation to decision making, etc," Sermanni said.

"So I think the cricket part of Ellyse's game has really, in some ways, helped her football as well."

Highlighting how busy Perry's life is, she'll have to make up two university exams when she returns to Australia but there's no sign of her choosing one sport over the other in the near future.

"The way that I view things is that playing the two sports is what makes me happiest and what helps me to perform as well as I can," she said.

"There's never been that point where I've felt like things were too much or I really needed to make a decision."

Rather, Perry was excited about the prospect of entering an international tournament as an outsider rather than a favourite as she normally is in the cricketing world.

"It'll be interesting to be in that position, not being one of the teams that's hunted or looked at," she said.

"Rather we're the ones that have got the opportunity and freeness to play the football that we want to play and see where it goes."

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