Asked how she sees herself, the 20-year-old opts for “fun”. “A jokester,” she adds. And after a pause, “A bit of a dickhead.”
Brown has been told she’s not competitive enough, which to a fast bowler is tantamount to a declaration of war. She reckons it’s a misreading of her liking for engaging in banter with teammates between deliveries, which invariably makes her laugh.
She’s not into sledging. “I feel like it’s too mean. But this year, who knows, I could change …”
If her manner lifts those around her she’s cool with that, acknowledging the importance of a “vibe” in a team environment. “If someone is really bubbly it can bring up the whole squad.” Or have them ducking for cover; she points to Renegades teammate and fellow strike bowler Lea Tahuhu, whose panicked expression every time Brown looks at her screams, “Oh god, what’s she going to do now …”
Eighteen months ago, by her own assessment, Brown was “a nobody”. The ACT Meteors asked her down to training, and without a WNCL contract she was snapped up by the Renegades, toured Sri Lanka with Australia’s Shooting Stars, and this year fielded rival domestic offers from Victoria and NSW.
“I decided to stick with ACT because they were the ones who gave me the opportunity that kick-started my career. I felt I owed them a bit. I’m really glad I did, because I love them, they’re like family to me.”
Cricket entered her world as another box to be ticked for a primary schooler who wanted to try everything – touch rugby, athletics, soccer, you name it. The Browns lived at Wingham, four hours north of Sydney. Every time Maitlan and her brother visited their Pop’s house he’d play cricket with them using a tennis ball and an axe handle for a bat. “No axe head on it, obviously,” Brown laughs.
Showing promise presented challenges.
“When I was still at school I’d wake up on a Sunday at like 3.30 in the morning, drive to Sydney with Dad, play grade cricket, then drive home, get home at 10.30pm and go to school the next day.” Once on the Meteors’ radar, the journey swelled to seven hours. “I did that for training a couple of times when it was called off because of rain, so you’d turn around and drive back.”
Against the Sixers in January she smacked 30 off 15 balls, finishing the game with a six, to be player of the match. “The highlight of my life!” Brown says. “Honestly, it was the best feeling in the world. Every time I think of it, if people ask me about it, it’s so hard to be modest about it because I’m so proud of it!”
She’d been angling for a promotion from 10 or 11, admitting she’d taken to padding up so early she could have gone in first wicket down. Entering WBBL03, a stress fracture to her tibia meant batting was all she could do for six weeks. “It will be interesting to see this season how my batting goes.”
The girl who grew up surrounded by horses with a farrier father, who hits a golf ball so well she’s nudging a single-figure handicap (“except someone just stole my golf clubs!”), now lives in Canberra and studies industrial design, which is “really random”. She jokes that it entails “having soy lattes and avo smashes, wearing glasses with no prescription lens in them”.
Maitlan Brown’s Pop was best man at the wedding of Johnny Martin, an unorthodox left-arm spinner and lower-order smasher who played seven Tests for Australia in the 1960s. Martin was famously so bouncy and upbeat, his NSW teammate dubbed him “The Little Favourite”.
How he’d love to have met his best mate’s granddaughter.