A chance call-up to state cricket last summer has put emerging fast bowler Maitlan Brown on the fast track to higher honours.
One year ago, with the 2016-17 summer rapidly approaching, the 20-year-old didn’t hold a Women’s National Cricket League contract and had been told she would not be part of that season’s NSW academy program.
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Unsure of where to go next, Brown was handed a second chance thanks to friend and ACT spinner Angela Reakes, who convinced the Meteors coaches – who were looking for pace talent to bolster an ACT list missing New Zealand international Lea Tahuhu - to take a chance on Brown.
It resulted in a rookie contract and Brown ended up playing all six WNCL matches for the Meteors, before producing several exciting cameos for the Melbourne Renegades in the Rebel Women’s Big Bash League.
"Ange Reakes put in a good word for me," Brown told cricket.com.au. "They signed me as a rookie late because they’d already handed out their contracts but I ended up playing every game and opening the bowling in four matches."
Fast forward 12 months and the country NSW product is one of the hottest young prospects in Australia.
Her outstanding domestic summer saw her selected in the Australia A squad that toured Sri Lanka in April, while last week she was one of eight players named in Cricket Australia’s inaugural Women’s National Performance squad, alongside the likes of internationally capped players Ashleigh Gardner, Belinda Vakarewa and Tahlia McGrath.
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She’ll travel to Brisbane next month and spend two weeks training with the NPS at the Bupa National Cricket Centre – the second week of which will be spent working alongside Australia’s contracted players, including Brown’s childhood idol Ellyse Perry – as they prepare for the Commonwealth Bank Women’s Ashes.
"Having access to Australian coaches and the NCC’s facilities will be amazing,” Brown said.
"I got to train with (the Australian squad) when they were in Canberra playing South Africa last year as well and it was so great just to see that environment, see how they trained and how they conducted themselves.
"Any chance to train with those girls is just the best, you just take so much away from it."
Brown, who hails from the country town of Wingham on the mid-north coast of NSW, has re-signed with the Meteors for the 2017-18 WNCL season.
But this year, rather than hunting for opportunity, she revealed she had instead been in high demand as two rival states attempted to lure her away from the Meteors.
“I’ve stuck with the ACT because it felt right, it’s just a gut feeling,” said Brown, who has now moved to Canberra where she is studying industrial design.
“I’m really happy with my choice.”
While Australia’s senior ranks are currently flush with in-form batters and spin bowlers fighting for spots in the XI, the Southern Stars have been hunting for frontline quicks capable of terrorising opposition batting line-ups.
It’s clear Brown – along with fellow NPS quicks Vakarewa and Piepa Cleary – is high in the thoughts of selectors and even if an opportunity doesn’t come against England this summer, her chance at international level could come sooner rather than later.
“I’m trying!” laughed Brown when asked about her international aspirations.
First ODI Allan Border Field, October 22
Brisbane Charity Partner: Lord Mayor's Charitable Trust
Second ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 26
Third ODI Coffs International Stadium, October 29
Day-Night Test North Sydney Oval, November 9-12
First T20 North Sydney Oval, November 17
North Sydney Charity Partner: McGrath Foundation
Second T20 Manuka Oval, November 19
Third T20 Manuka Oval, November 21
Canberra Charity Partner: Lord's Taverners ACT