“Half-way through lunch Liz told me that she was retiring after the World Cup – regardless of whether we won or not,” Cox said.
“I remember saying to her `no you’re not’ and she said `yes I am’ and the conversation went on like that for a couple of minutes. She said that she’d had enough and it was the perfect time for her to go out of the game – but I had to keep it a secret.
“I remember that I was filthy on her for the rest of lunch.”
Ellis, the most capped Australian Test player, had spent 14 years at international level and, after missing the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne because of injury, was desperate to leave the game on a high by regaining the world title from New Zealand at the 2007 championships in Christchurch.
Cox kept Ellis’ secret safe right throughout the tournament and it wasn’t until the final against New Zealand that she started to contemplate playing for her country without her best mate at the other end of the court.
“It was easy when I was out on court because you’re focusing on the game and what’s happening,” Cox said.
“I think I played three quarters of the game but it was only during the fourth quarter when I was sitting on the bench that I was watching her and hoping like crazy that we could get the win for her because Liz, of all people, deserved a fairytale finish like that.
“So I got super emotional.”
In a tense final, Australia led the Silver Ferns at every break and kept their opponents at arm’s length for most of the last quarter to run out 42-38 winners.
“You don’t get those really special moments much in everyday life; thanks to our sport we do get to experience them sometimes. Liz and I spent so much time together; it was nice to have that special moment between us.
“It was a gutsy of her to make that decision before the tournament. We could have lost that tournament and, for a player like Liz, that wouldn’t have sat well. She was always focused on winning. Fortunately we got the result that she – and we all – wanted.”
Ellis told the rest of her teammates the following day of her decision and Cox said there were a lot of shocked faces in the room.
“Everyone looked at me first and were wondering, `what’s Cath going to do?’ The room was in shock because we felt that she had at least another five years of amazing netball left in her.”
Every fortnight leading into this year’s Netball World Cup we’ll feature a story from one of Australia’s past campaigns. Stay tuned to netball.com.au for the next installment.