The independent voice of cricket

The Hundred 2023

‘You’re a little Barbie yourself aren’t you’ – Why Chris Hughes’ interview with Maitlan Brown missed the mark

Chris Hughes, Maitlan Brown
by Katya Witney 4 minute read

The 2023 men’s and women’s editions of The Hundred got underway yesterday at Trent Bridge, but an uncomfortable in-match interview drew significant reaction over underlying misogyny in cricket.

Southern Brave may have got off to a winning start in the competition, beating Trent Rockets by 27 runs, but an interview with fast-bowler Maitlan Brown later drew headlines.

What happened

Halfway into Southern Brave’s innings after they batted first, the BBC commentary team passed over to Chris Hughes to conduct a pitch-side interview.


Hughes is a TV personality who was a contestant on the 2017 series of Love Island on ITV. Since then, he has participated in charity cricket matches, including in the celebrity Tailenders team vs a Test Match Special XI, and been a part of marketing campaigns for The Hundred. This year, he is a presenter on the BBC’s coverage of the competition.

Brown joined Hughes on the sideline for the interview. She was set to come in at No.7 for the Southern Brave who, at that point, were one wicket down. The interview progressed as a normal in-match interview at first, with Hughes asking Brown about the state of the game and the Brave’s batting performance thus far. Hughes then asked Brown about how the side had “settled in” together ahead of the competition.

“We got together a few days ago in Southampton,” responded Brown. “And it was really nice to get together as a group, we played a practice game. We also went and watched Barbie the other night all together. We’ve done a bit of team bonding and the group is gelling really well together and I think that’s the key to success, I think with tournaments like this is how well and how quickly can you gel as a group.”

The controversy surrounds Hughes’ response to Brown’s answer.

“You’re a little Barbie yourself aren’t you with your blue eyes,” he said. When Brown responded by laughing Hughes said: “She’s blushing now!”

The interview then quickly pivoted to a question about Southern Brave coach, Charlotte Edwards.


There was significant negative reaction online to Hughes comments.

There was also comparisons to an interview Chris Gayle gave with Mel McLaughlin during the Big Bash in 2017. In the interview he said: “I want to come and have an interview with you as well, that’s the reason why I’m here, just to see your eyes for the first time. It’s nice, hopefully when this game is over we can go and have a drink after. Don’t blush baby.”

Before today’s round of matches it was reported that the BBC had spoken to Hughes about why his comment was not appropriate.

The damage

It is worth breaking this down. Is what Hughes said to Brown the most offensive thing a man has ever said to a woman playing sport, or a woman full stop for that matter? No. Does this matter or make the impact of it any less frustrating? No.

That type of comment is an unsolicited observation of a woman’s appearance while she is at her place of work, at its bare bones. It is inappropriate. There are so many other responses to hearing that Brown and her teammates had been to see the Barbie movie that Hughes could have chosen if it needed comment at all, yet he went with that one.

Whether Hughes made the remark with the intention to belittle or embarrass Brown or not is also irrelevant. As is whether Brown in fact took offense to it. The effect and imagery was the same. Particularly uncomfortable is the word ‘little’. That word makes the comment much more patronising towards a professional sportswoman simply existing within that environment.

It doesn’t have to be anything major. Those ‘little’ comments build up into feeling like a significant pressure that impedes someone from trying to do their job while constantly batting off unwanted attention. That this was played out on camera at the beginning of the domestic competition which has done the most good for the women’s game in England of anything over the last five years, is also important.

The Hundred is where the women’s domestic calendar is afforded the space to come into its own. There is so much celebration throughout the competition, with a more diverse and young audience than for any other cricket competition in the country. It’s a frustrating reminder that misogyny in sport, and society, is pervasive even when it’s trying to be progressive.

Let’s also just address the irony of using the Barbie movie in that particular context. It’s a movie that has resonated with so many women because it makes their experience of societally ingrained sexism feel heard. That passing comment, one that isn’t overt but is still pernicious, pretty much sums up the point of the film.

This should also be put in the context of the ICEC report. In it, women reported their experience of being sexualised when playing cricket at all levels. Those experiences indicate “a widespread culture of sexism and misogyny and unacceptable behaviour towards women in both recreational and professional clubs. This included misogynistic and derogatory comments about women and girls, and sexist ‘jokes’.

There should be no suggestion that Hughes should lose his presenting role from this. He’s been ‘spoken to’ by the BBC about the matter, and that seems a good place to draw a line and move on from. Employing a reality TV star with passing links to cricket as a presenter for the flagship domestic competition of the season is another debate. But the reaction to the incident did matter, and calling them out when they happen is part of the process of change the game has to undergo.

Subscribe to the Wisden Cricket YouTube channel for post-match analysis, player interviews, and much more.

Have Your Say

Become a Wisden member

  • Exclusive offers and competitions
  • Money-can’t-buy experiences
  • Join the Wisden community
  • Sign up for free
Latest magazine

Get the magazine

12 Issues for just £39.99