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Interviews

'Hey, I'm here!' - Josh Brown is on the T20 world stage

The Brisbane Heat batter talks about his 140 in the BBL semi-final, his day job making bats, and more

Brown goes big in a late-season game against Sydney Sixers, where he made 43 off 31 in a chase of 102  •  Getty Images

Brown goes big in a late-season game against Sydney Sixers, where he made 43 off 31 in a chase of 102  •  Getty Images

How did January 22, 2024 change your life?
Getting all those runs in the Big Bash semi-final was probably the best time to do it. I put my name on the big stage. I said, "Hey, I'm here."
Tell us what happened.
I was actually busy playing Call of Duty Zombies on my Xbox that day. I looked at the time - it's four o'clock, I better go play some cricket. Oh no, I'm running late. I got to the ground, and the rest…
What did you do differently in that innings?
Everything just clicked. I was just watching the ball. Everything seemed easy. Just watching it and hitting it. It's pretty much my game. I just watch and react.
From getting big scores in the KFC T20 Max to getting a big score in the Big Bash is a huge leap.
I was hitting the ball well all season but I hadn't got any runs. I thought I should keep sticking to my process. I was doing it right in training. For it to happen the way it did was perfect.
Adam Gilchrist said he was a fan of yours after your innings of 62 off 23 against Sydney Sixers in January last year.
It was unreal. Gilly was my favourite player growing up. I got to meet him a couple of days later. I was more nervous meeting him than I have ever been playing. We talked about bats. I make my own bats. We talked about what he said.
How tough is the Big Bash?
It is a very tough competition. The pitches this year weren't the best. It was a tough adjustment as well. Once we did, it was perfect.
Brisbane Heat won the title after 11 years. What changed in the team that won the title this year?
We were runners-up the season before. The whole group was devastated by it. To come out the next season, start so well - everyone was just hungry. We didn't want to lose a single game. I think we lost just two games [one game] the whole season.
Guys like you and Nathan McSweeney, the Heat captain, have come through a system in Brisbane…
I never came through a system. I started playing grade cricket. There's Under-19s in Queensland but I never had any of that. I didn't really care about cricket back then.
So how did you eventually get into it and break through?
At the age of 23 or 24, I lost 30 kilos working in the gym. I got down to about 95-100 kilos. I started cricket training. I started playing fifth grade and finished the season in third grade. The next season I started in third grade and finished in first grade. I have been in first grade ever since. About 12 months after I played my first first-grade game, I played in the Queensland 2nd XI. It was my first taste of the pathway.
I was working full-time at [equipment manufacturer] Cooper Cricket when I started playing first grade. I was playing on the weekend and training once a week. I was not taking it that seriously.
Then I had this discussion with my boss at Cooper. We spoke for about two hours. He said that the job is always going to be here for you. So during the off season I went up to Darwin to play cricket for four-five months, to try to be a professional cricketer. I didn't do that well. I came back to Brisbane for the T20 Max, and that's when I got the big scores. I got 147 not out and 159 off 59 balls. I hit 17 sixes. I was like, "Hi guys, I'm here. I can't really do much more. You have to give me a chance." I got one of the centuries against Darren Lehmann's son's team.
"Now I have about six years to have a good crack at cricket. Hopefully I can keep getting contracts around the world, which will be lovely"
Were you surprised at the speed at which the BPL and ILT20 came calling after your innings?
Absolutely. I scored the century on the Monday night; the next day my manager said that he was in talks. I told him not to tell me anything till the final, but he said I had to get home and pack. "You are leaving on Friday." Okay, cool.
What will you do to adjust to conditions in Bangladesh in the BPL?
I haven't had to change too much, to be honest. I have been batting really well. I have been smoking it everywhere in the nets, which is nice. The only thing is that it doesn't really bounce as much as Australian pitches. Staying a bit lower is making the difference.
I am loving Bangladesh. I love the people, I definitely love the food. I just love spicy food as well. My favorite restaurant in Brisbane is Café Hyderabad. I get the Chicken 65 from there. It is so tasty.
How do you see your career going from this point?
Hopefully play as much cricket as I can. I just love cricket. I am an absolute nuffy!
You spoke about Cooper Cricket. Making bats must require a lot of patience?
We have a process. My boss, Rod Grey, the owner, is a signwriter by trade. We have a CNC [wood lathe] machine. We play around with shapes in it. We can put a rough shape into it and finish it off by hand. It saves us about two or three hours.
What kind of bat do you like to use?
I always use a mid-middle bat. The traditional one is the low-middle with a low spine. Mine is a mid-middle with a load of high spine. Pretty much a flat one, and that shapes away at the toe. We use English willows.
Have you had a chance to try other kinds of bats?
I have tried Kashmir, Siberian, and Aussie willow. English willow is the best one. Australian willow is good for white-ball cricket. It is a lot harder. Siberian willow cannons but it breaks also.
I know you have your own brand, so to speak, but do you have a favourite brand?
Puma. Gilly's Puma. I collect bats as well, so I try to find old Puma bats.
Are you looking to turn fully professional now?
This is it. So now I have six years to have a good crack at it. Hopefully I can keep getting contracts around the world, which will be lovely.
I need to score some runs first. It would be nice to get a gig as a replacement player in the IPL. I would love to play in the [Persian] Gulf and America too. Otherwise, I will just be at home working at Cooper and in the gym.
Anyone in particular you turn to for advice?
I have a had a lot of good talks with Colin Munro. Darren Lehmann also speaks so truly. He was always honest, which I personally needed. It made a huge difference to me. Same with Munro. Even McSweeney. He and I played four years together in club cricket before he moved to South Australia. He has seen me at my best and he has seen me at my worst. He is one of the best.
Do you remember the day before you hit 140 in the Big Bash? Effectively the last day of a normal life.
I trained, went home and played Xbox. During that day as well. It was pretty much what I did in those two days. After the game I didn't have a beer. I had a tiny niggle on my hip. We celebrated and sang the song. We went into the final - it was the big thing.

Mohammad Isam is ESPNcricinfo's Bangladesh correspondent. @isam84