Kathakali has been a journalist for a decade and a half, working previously with The Telegraph and Times of India. An MA in political science and a Chevening Fellow, she writes on various themes--the business of sports, pop culture, startups, innovation--and co-produces the video series, From the Field. She is also part of the desk, editing, rewriting and putting the print edition to bed. Kathakali is a sports nut and collects autographs as a hobby. She enjoys travelling and music, and you'll often find her humming completely out of tune.
Australian cricketer Ellyse Perry
Image: Mark Evans/Getty Images
There’s nothing that Ellyse Perry can’t do. Considered among the greatest cricketers of her generation, the Australian is not only a prolific batter and a bowler, but she also has to her name a goal in the Fifa World Cup. Before she turned 17, Perry debuted in both cricket and football, eventually picking the former as schedules clashed. Winner of two ODI and six T20 World Cups, Perry has also been selected as ICC’s female player of the decade. In an exclusive chat with Forbes India, the 32-year-old, who recently played the inaugural WPL for Royal Challengers Bangalore, breaks down the elements that make her tick and the lessons she has learnt from her illustrious career. Edited excerpts:
‘Multitasking expands your mind’
At 16, I represented Australia in both cricket and football. And that had a lot to do with the fact that, growing up in Australia, I had to opportunity to dabble in multiple things—be it sports or music or drama or the arts, what have you. Just having that exposure to multiple skills is important for a kid in terms of opening up his/her mind. Sometimes you can draw motivation and understanding from different sources that help you achieve what you want. Multitasking is a great avenue to expand your mind and help you see things more holistically.
For me, the inspiration to succeed came from my home, just by looking at my parents. My mum’s a doctor, and I have watched her work incredibly hard, juggling professional responsibilities while giving absolutely everything to her family. My dad was a schoolteacher, but he always had enough time for my brother and me to teach us to play sports, as well as maths and English. Both have been huge inspirations because, with them, it was never about being the best at anything or putting pressure on us to perform. They always taught us to learn new things, enjoy doing them and trying our best. That has enabled me to look at goals from a much bigger perspective than just results.
‘With failure comes the opportunity to learn about yourself’
As an international athlete, there is always the pressure to perform, but it depends on how you look at it. I think that while there's pressure, there is always a wonderful opportunity to not only let events unfold and see where they go but also let you learn something new about yourself. Sport has an amazing way of teaching people—often when you are not successful is when you learn the most about yourself—and that will help you find what it takes to be successful in future. And on a day-to-day basis, don't let what you do define who you are as a person. When you are a professional, it's probably easy to attach much meaning to how things go on the field, but ultimately the world's a lot bigger than that.
I don't consider setbacks as setbacks—they are just a different set of challenges for me. Some challenges are easier to handle, and others, like injuries and losses of form, are a little drawn out. But if everything was easy to achieve, it would get really boring really quickly. Challenges not only make you a better player but also a better person because you experience a greater range of emotions in that period—it helps you have more empathy for others and understand what other people go through in tough times. If you can value your setbacks and learn from them, they always turn into positive things.
‘When you control people, you will never be in harmony’
I have been part of eight World Cup-winning teams, yet I can't say there is a cardboard cutout solution to building a great team. When you work in a team, every individual and their environments are different. The trick is to expand the parameters of your environment to enable everyone to fit in\ and also know that, at any given time, your teammates will respond differently to situations. If you enable a space within your team to let people go through their experiences and trust all in having a common goal, everyone will naturally tread the path that will take them to the shared vision. When you try and control people and fit them in a small box, you are never going to be in harmony.
The older I got, the more I realised how little I know. As you become more mature and more open to seeing more of the world, you realise there are very few answers that you actually have. The best thing I've learnt from the captains I've played under—the likes of Karen Rolton, Alex Blackwell, and Meg Lanning, among others—is to not have set or pre-determined ideas. You can only respond to situations naturally and how it fits you as a person as long as you have empathy and compassion for others. Sometimes you may lead by example, at other times, you've got to sit back and watch others. And just know that no one's got the answers—we've got to figure out things as we go along.
‘Wins or losses don’t define us, trust the process’
What will I tell a young girl looking to be the next Ellyse Perry? Never set a limit on yourself. And be patient with what you are trying to achieve. None of us really know what's possible. That’s for the universe to decide. But what you can do is try. Don't get bored with how your day turns out to be. Value the process, whether your day is successful or tough. Winning and losing don't define us, but they help us to keep moving forward.