Steve Smith has two centuries and averages 48 since the fourth Test of the 2019 Ashes – far from the performances we have become…
When I speak to Darcie Brown, even though I can’t see her, I can tell she’s smiling.
The 18-year-old is part of the squad selected to contest the Women’s Ashes (which starts today) and she has just stepped off the Adelaide Oval after a photo opportunity with her two fellow South Australian teammates, Megan Schutt and Tahlia McGrath.
“No surprises, that Shooter was being the jokester and being a bit silly out there,” said Brown.
Brown has a lot of respect and admiration for her South Australian mates.
Both players have provided guidance to Brown as her cricket career has progressed. This means a lot, particularly given that McGrath is a bit of a ‘big dog’ back home.
That’s even though they like to play their fair share of pranks on her.
“They sort of gang up on me actually, but that’s all part of it and I love getting the mickey taken out of me,” said Brown.
“I’ve been trying to come back at them, but it usually just gets thrown back in my face.”
Fun aside, business starts today with the multi-format Ashes series starting, comprising three T20Is, a four-day Test Match and three ODIs.
With the series commencing in Adelaide, Brown’s family will also be in attendance to cheer her on.
“My whole family are cricket nuffies and watch cricket whether I’m playing or not,” said Brown.
“Mum and dad will even watch random cricket in the sub-continent if they can find it.
“I’ve played alongside every member of my family so to have them here to cheer me on is really special.”
For Brown, it still feels surreal to be part of the Australian Women’s cricket team; a team that is not only supremely successful, but has helped create a narrative in Australia where the next generation of boys and girls grow up in a world where it is totally normal for boys and girls to play cricket at the elite level.
“It makes me really proud of where I’m from and just how far I’ve come,” said Brown.
“I was a country kid playing as many sports as I could so to now be in this set up is something I am really proud of.
“When I was 12 years old I had my photo taken on the Adelaide Oval and I remember stealing some of the grass and putting it in my pocket, just so I could have it at home because I didn’t think I would ever be here again.”
Funnily enough, Brown isn’t the only cricketer in the team to have taken grass from one of the hallowed pitches. Sophie Molineux also ate grass from the Melbourne Cricket Ground when she was younger.
Whilst Brown is known for her bowling attack in the T20 format of the game, she is most excited about the Test. This is the format that women play the least at an elite level.
With the Test match that took place between India and Australia in October last year and the Test match scheduled as part of the Ashes, this will be the most Test cricket that most of the current members of the Australian have played in a year.
Brown is hoping to not just shine with ball in hand, but also to learn from the leaders around her.
“We don’t get to play Test cricket, so I am stoked for that and to get the chance to learn a bit more about it,” said Brown.
“With the longer format you can also try and set up the batters a bit more when bowling and the batters can also push to make those higher scores.”
Given the investment that Cricket Australia and the states have made in women’s cricket over the last six years, Brown is in the right place at the right time. At just 16 years of age she was signed by the Adelaide Strikers, making her the youngest player ever signed by the club.
Her development has continued since then, continuing to play for the Strikers and making her T20I debut on 30 March 2021 against New Zealand.
Unlike many who came before her, Brown has the opportunity to be a full-time professional athlete and with increased focus on developing the next generation of female fast bowlers through coaches like Ben Sawyer, the next generation of quicks like Brown are an exciting prospect.
But while cricket is the focus for now, Brown certainly hasn’t ruled out playing other sports in future given that when she was young she played high level basketball, netball and Aussie rules.
“Cricket gave me lots of opportunities when I was younger and the women’s game has really taken off in the last couple of years, so I never really had to choose it over the others,” said Brown.
“Hopefully I’ll get the chance to play those sports another time as I get older.
“I might be one of those older ladies playing netball or basketball. I’ll play sport as long as I can, until I’m old and grey and struggle to make it onto the field anymore.”