This article was first written for and published by the Roar.
ollowing a sixth-month break, today the Australian Women’s Cricket team are back in action, taking on India in a series which will include three ODIs, a Test Match and three T20 fixtures.
This will be the first international cricket played in Australia since January and sees some new faces enter the Australian squad including Georgia Redmayne and Stella Campbell. Maitlan Brown has also been recalled. Brown missed the tour of New Zealand in March and April because of a hamstring injury.
The ongoing COVID-19 situation has also had an impact on this tour, with all matches being relocated to Queensland. Additionally, almost two-third of Australia’s squad has had to quarantine for two weeks in Queensland as they are based in Sydney or Melbourne.
Relocation and quarantine are not new. This has been the reality of sport for the last 18 months. Whilst there is almost a universal recognition that athletes are in a fortunate position, being able to spend time with their teammates and playing the sports they love, quarantine and relocation certainly pose some challenges.
“Before coming on tour when we were first told about the quarantine arrangements, the tour and then going straight into WBBL, I had to wrap my head around the fact that I won’t be home and won’t be able to see my partner until the end of November and I was really impacted by it,” said Brown.
“At times the anxiety and stress felt a bit overwhelming, but it helps that so many of us are going through the same thing and that we are talking about it.
“It’s worth it though; I can’t play cricket forever and making these sacrifices for something I really want is worth it, but it is hard and it’s important that we support each other through it.”
But fortunately, Brown has her teammates as well as the team psychologist who has travelled with the team. An ongoing focus will also be to make sure that cricket does not become all-consuming.
“We are also making sure we have some down time too, because cricket can become all-absorbing over this period,” said Brown.
“It’s important that we have some balance and make sure that we aren’t just in and around cricket all the time.”
But, even though it was challenging, Brown made the most of her time in quarantine and even found some unique ways to connect with her teammates.
“It was almost like I was in a time warp; it felt like the time went really quickly, but thinking about the first few days seems like such a long time ago,” said Brown.
“I brought my PlayStation up too and spent some time playing Tomb Raider and ‘Call of Duty’ against Midge and I sucked. She and Mitch have obviously spent some time playing against each other.
“We got creative with some bowling stuff too and I was bowling against the wall with a few pillows and had to start my run-up in the bathroom.”
There were also some competitions between the players about who had the ‘highest screen time’. While Brown admits to me that hers was ‘dangerously high’ and that Rachael Haynes also surprised her with how much time screen time she was having, Stella Campbell never shared hers with the wider group, preferring to use emoji’s instead.
This series will hopefully mark the beginning of a big year for Brown. After five years with the Melbourne Renegades in the WBBL, Brown has signed with the Sydney Sixers on a three year deal. She has relocated to Sydney and will also be playing for the NSW Breakers in the WNCL.
“It’s been really nice to make the move back to NSW because I played all my pathway cricket here,” said Brown.
“It was good to put the Breakers uniform on because going through the pathway, I always wanted to play for the Breakers.
“Opportunity led me elsewhere but I am loving where I am now.”
It’s also given her the chance to make new friends with her new teammates.
“I’ve become really close with Stella [Campbell] and Hannah [Darlington] recently,” said Brown.
“We have become the ‘fast bowler cartel’ at New South Wales and have stuck together here in Aussie camp too.
“It was great when we found out we were all coming into the Aussie squad; we jumped on a video call straight away and were all carrying on.”
Whilst Brown is hopeful of selection during this series, her focus is on improving her cricket and being mindful that if it all goes right, she is only at the beginning of her career.
“I’m not sure what my chances are of getting a baggy green, but I am going to do everything I can so if I get the call-up, I’ll be ready,” said Brown.
“I would love to get the cap and make my dream come true, but if that doesn’t happen this is great prep going into the WBBL, being surrounded by some many incredible players and being challenged by them every day.
“If it’s not a debut, then it ends up being a great experience that will help set me up for a big summer.”