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Harry Brook

England U19 captain Harry Brook outdoes game’s greats

England news

Maiden centuries don’t come much more impressive than this.

Harry Brook captained England during the ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup 2018, and impressed, scoring 239 runs at an average of 119.50 with a century and two half-centuries.

However, he has endured a tough start to his first-class career; the right-hander headed into Yorkshire’s game against last year’s County Championship winners Essex with a high score of just 38 in 11 innings at an average of 17.00.

His poor form continued when he was dismissed for a three-ball duck, the first wicket to fall as Yorkshire were skittled for 50 in just 18.4 overs. But with Essex succumbing to a low total as well, bundled out for 142, Brook was back at the crease by the end of the first day, this time coming in at No.3 as Yorkshire promoted England wicket-keeper Jonny Bairstow in his place.

By the time the stumps were drawn, Brook had surpassed his side’s first-innings total by himself, unbeaten on 57. He continued on the next day to a remarkable 124, putting on stands of 94 with Cheteshwar Pujara and 86 with Joe Root, and helped Yorkshire set a target of 238. With Essex slipping to 94/4 by the end of the second day, he may well have set his side on the path to an incredible victory.

Harry Brook scored his maiden first-class century in conditions that troubled bigger names
Harry Brook scored his maiden first-class century in conditions that troubled bigger names

His innings was all the more impressive considering the calibre of the attack he faced, and the number of batsmen with international experience playing in this game, none of whom grasped the conditions as well as he did.

Despite all that, Brook wasn’t satisfied. “I've trained really hard recently and it's really nice to get some runs in first-team cricket,” he later said. “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.”

Essex could call upon two former Test cricketers in South African left-arm spinner Simon Harmer and Australian seamer Peter Siddle, as well as 2017 Wisden Cricketer of the Year Jamie Porter, who many believe will earn a Test call-up in the near future.

Across both teams were four batsmen ranked inside the top 20 of the MRF Tyres ICC Test rankings – Alastair Cook, Pujara, Root and Bairstow – while the likes of Tom Westley, James Foster, Ravi Bopara, Adam Lyth, and Gary Ballance all have international experience as well.

Harry Brook scored 239 runs, including a century and two half-centuries, at the ICC U19 CWC
Harry Brook scored 239 runs, including a century and two half-centuries, at the ICC U19 CWC

Yet it was Brook, the only member of Yorkshire’s top six not to have played for his country, who stood out. No other batsmen in the match has scored more than 50, and Brook had an individual score more than double the tally made by current and former England captains Root and Cook.

"It was good batting with Joe Root,” Brook said. “I learnt a lot and we put on a few runs. When I got my hundred he just said, 'Well done. Carry on'. Hundreds are good but just hundreds aren't good enough.”

Yorkshire are now slight favourites for victory, needing just six wickets more to win with Essex trailing by 141. Despite that, Brook was struggling to come to terms with the fact that the match had raced ahead at such break-neck speed. "It's been the strangest game I've ever played in — 20 wickets in two sessions is ridiculous, unheard of," he said. "It's been a strange one so far. I'm looking forward to the outcome.”

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