Ellyse Perry still gets nostalgic most times she comes back to Canberra.
It might be something as simple as driving past the Italian restaurant in Kingston where she had her first date with former ACT Brumbies player and now husband Matt Toomua.
The Australian sporting golden girl can add another moment to her capital memories as she chases a perfect finish to the women’s Ashes at Manuka Oval on Sunday and Tuesday.
It would be a sweet reward after scoring an historic unbeaten 213 in the Ashes Test in Sydney last weekend.
Perry’s mind is focused only on beating England in the final matches of the multi-format tournament.
But relaxing with a coffee at one of two Canberra cafes where she is a part owner, Perry allows herself to reflect on how the city and a long black changed her life.
“I never used to drink coffee, but I loved cafes. Somewhere along the line, Matt said if I started drinking coffee he would propose to me. So I weaned myself on to it,” Perry laughed.
“It was a joke, but he actually said it. I’m pretty sure I started drinking piccolos well in advance of that.”
The rest is history. Perry and Toomua got married two years ago, fittingly just hours after Perry hit the winning runs for the Sydney Sixers in a Women’s Big Bash League match.
Their relationship started when they were playing for Canberra United and the Brumbies and they are now part-owners of cafes Two Before Ten at Aranda and Nomad at the University of Canberra.
Perry will return to the capital for the last two Twenty20 matches of the women’s Ashes campaign. Cricket ACT are hoping Perry and $10 tickets help attract bumper crowds for the Manuka Oval fixtures.
Perry, 27, is already one of Australia’s greatest female athletes. Her double century last weekend was the third highest score in women’s cricket history but her humble and polite nature is what endears her to a nation.
Female athletes are finally getting more opportunities to pursue their sporting dreams.
Perry has been living her dream since she was a teenager, becoming the youngest player in Australian women’s cricket history and a dual international when she made her Australian Matildas soccer debut.
But she also needed balance in her life. So cafe hopping developed from an on-tour hobby to a business avenue with Toomua, who fancies himself as a barrista.
“It’s always been a bit of a pipe dream I guess [to own a cafe]. We love being able to learn a lot about it as well. Canberra seemed a lot more logical for us than Sydney so this is how it ended up,” Perry said.
“We share the [coffee-making] duties at home. It’s kind of whoever gets to it first in the morning gets to make the coffees … it’s a bit of a competition and he’s probably got better latte art than me at the moment.
“I’m still stuck on the hearts, he’s got the tulips and the rosetta as well. He gets a bit more practice though.”
The challenge for Toomua and Perry is aligning their sporting lives. Toomua left the Brumbies at the end of last year to link with the Leicester Tigers and will be based in England until at least 2020.
Perry is at the peak of her cricket powers as one of the world’s leading all-rounders.
But a commitment to make up for lost time when they retire helps fuel the fire when their colliding careers force them to spend months apart on opposite sides of the world.
“It’s been a good experience for us both professionally and it’s good to see Matt get that over there at Leicester,” Perry said.
“When we get to spend time together, it’s wonderful. We spend more concentrated periods together now … we both just want to make the most of these opportunities while we have our sporting careers.
“Hopefully we make up for any lost time in the future. There’s a lot of Facetime and dodgy internet connections … It’s amazing how quickly it’s gone. And I still get nostalgic coming here.”
November 19: First Twenty20 – Australia v England at Manuka Oval, 2.35pm. Tickets from Ticketek.
November 21: First Twenty20 – Australia v England at Manuka Oval, 7.10pm. Tickets from Ticketek.