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Harry Brook, tipped for England honours by Stokes, is out-Bantoning Banton in his breakthrough season

harry brook
Yas Rana by Yas Rana
@Yas_Wisden 2 minute read

Harry Brook is enjoying a phenomenal breakout season across all formats, three years after making a name for himself as England under-19 captain. A look at his career so far.

“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.

“I remember hearing his name about three or four years ago and people saying ‘watch out for this kid’. Watching the games in the Blast he has been phenomenal and he has continued that form here.”

High praise from his Northern Superchargers captain Ben Stokes, but it’s not been plain sailing for Harry Brook. There’s a false assumption that success in England age-group cricket predicates a smooth transition into professional cricket, but that isn’t often the case. You can expect up to half of England under-19 World Cup squad members to be out of the professional game by the time they hit 30 and of England’s captains at the tournament since 2008, none of played international cricket.

You’d think that Brook – captain at the 2018 tournament – has a good chance of putting that statistic to an end. He impressed on the pitch – he scored 239 runs and was dismissed just twice – but was dropped from England’s final game – a seventh-place play-off – after a minor, off-field indiscretion that went against the team’s disciplinary rules.

Afforded regular game time for Yorkshire following that tournament, Brook, like most young batsmen in the country, struggled for consistency, particularly in first-class cricket. 23 first-class games in 2018 and 2019 yielded just five fifty-plus scores and an average the wrong side of 25.

Since then, he’s turned a corner and is more than justifying his tag as one of the most impressive youngsters in the country. While it’s against the white-ball that’s he making his name, his first-class game has turned a corner, too. In the two most recent first-class seasons, Brook averages 41.70.

In T20 cricket, his form has been extraordinary. Assisted by a handful of not outs, Brook averages 80.83 with a strike-rate of 150.15 in this year’s Blast. He has been undeterred by the higher calibre of opposition on show in The Hundred, either. At the time of writing, he’s the second-highest run-scorer in the competition with a strike-rate that is once more over 150. In fact, in the history of T20 cricket no one has both a higher average and strike-rate than Brook.

His season is comparable to the one enjoyed by his England under-19 teammate Tom Banton back in 2019. Banton finished second, behind only his Somerset opening partner Babar Azam, in the 2019 Blast run-scoring charts. That summer was enough for Banton to win a maiden England call-up and a stream of overseas opportunities that winter, the latter of which will surely come Brook’s way this winter.

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