Harry Brook: Emerging talent in English cricket

Harry Brook: Emerging talent in English cricket

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2022 has been a breakthrough year for Harry Brook as he is the second-highest run-scorer so far in County Championship with 840 runs and is also in a terrific form in Vitality T20 Blast. His return to the national set-up of the England cricket might be on cards courtesy of consistency he has shown.

A few years back, England were a quality Test side but were not so good in limited-overs. Until 2019, England were yet to win an ODI World Cup and had won only one World T20I Championship. The lack of attacking intent from their batters was considered to be the reason behind their failure. 

After an early exit from the 2015 World Cup, England and their team management became aware of the change they needed to do with the evolution of the game. The team then completely changed their philosophy and playing style which resulted in the team winning their first ODI World Cup in 2019. In the years after that, England have become a strong limited-overs outfit. 

However, the team has struggled in Test cricket recently. In 2021, the team played 15 Tests winning only four out of them. After a poor performance in red-ball cricket in recent times, Joe Root stepped down from the captaincy and the team will look towards captaincy of Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum to bring a positive change. The main problem for England was their batting and they made continuous changes in the batting order. A solution for this for England might be to get an all-format player and Harry Brook who is performing really well in domestic competitions can be recalled.

Brook has a batting style more suited to the white-ball cricket but he has the technique and capability to succeed in red-ball cricket as well. He has played one T20I against West Indies in January and managed to score 10 runs. Brook’s fine stroke-making was witnessed by the world in his Under-19 days. While captaining the England U-19 team in the 2018 World Cup, he scored 239 runs at an average of 119.50 with a century and two half-centuries. His exploits in junior cricket helped him get a contract to play for Yorkshire. His first remarkable knock came in the same year at Chelmsford when he helped his side recover from being bowled out on a total of 50 to defeat Essex. He scored 124 runs in the game stitching a crucial partnership with Cheteshwar Pujara and Joe Root. His zeal to stay at the crease for longer periods was evident from his words after the knock. 

“I've trained really hard recently and it's really nice to get some runs in first-team cricket. It's my first score over 50, so I'm quite happy, although I just wish I'd got a few more. I got out playing a shocking shot,” He had said. 

He has 2940 runs from 54 first-class matches at an average of 35.85 including seven centuries and 16 fifties. Brook has been improving his performance since last season in County as he had scored 797 runs at 37.95 last season. This time he has scored 840 runs from just six matches with three centuries and five fifties. 

Brook’s style suits more to the limited-overs format as he can also bat in the middle order and can play as a finisher as well. He has 343 runs from 15 List A matches at an average of 31.18 and has amassed 1714 runs from 65 T20s with an average of 36.46 and a strike rate of 148.52. He had a pretty impressive record in the last season of the Vitality Blast scoring 486 runs at a superb average of 69.4 and a strike rate of about 150. Brook’s ability to play his shots straight down the ground helps him score with consistency. Innovation is yet another forte he possesses and he uses it often at the back end of the innings. Brook has displayed his ability to play scoops to yorkers or play reverse sweeps to spinners to garner a lot of runs. 

Brook also featured in the last season of the Pakistan Super League and scored 264 runs at 52.8 and a massive strike rate of 171.4. Stats depict his flexibility to bat in middle-order as well as in lower order. He has scored 1049 runs at 35 while batting in the middle order (3-5) in the T20s. At number 6, he has plundered  275 runs with a strike rate of 178.6. 

Brook has enormous talent and England’s current skipper Ben Stokes echoed the same sentiment when the batter scored a fifty in one of ‘The Hundred’ matches. 

"He just takes the game on from ball one. He is not scared of any situation, he is not frightened of any bowler and he just sticks to what works for him. That is exactly what we try and create in the England team so I don't think it will be too long before we see him wearing the Three Lions,” Stokes had backed him for the national call-up. 

Having the ability to play with patience as well as attacking from the start is a rare feature and if Brook manages to pull do that more often, he can earn a recall to the national team. Now, it might become a complicated equation to fit him in the playing XI but he was handed a debut in the series against West Indies earlier this year. Furthermore, he has enough talent to make it to the list of 15 players touring for a series as he can be an immediate backup in case a frontline middle-order batter gets injured. 

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