They have a fine, long-standing tradition of bringing through England Test batters in Yorkshire, although there are perhaps few to have come off the production line who have been quite like Harry Brook.
Fresh from a devastating 116-ball 153 in the first innings of England’s Test match against Pakistan, the 23-year-old Keighley native cracked a rapid 87 from just 65 balls in the second on day four before the tourists declared to set the hosts 343 to win.
That Brook, who has a strike rate of 64.73 in 57 first-class matches for Yorkshire, can produce such hard-hitting displays is not a surprise, but what has particular impressed former Sri Lanka batter Kumar Sangakkara is how the right-hander marries that with some classic stroke-play.
“What I like about Harry Brook is there doesn’t seem to be much effort in terms of hitting the ball,” Sangakkara, who combined elegance with big hitting during his own playing career, told Sky Sports.
“It’s not as if he’s gritting his teeth and hitting it as hard as he can, he’s just got so much power, so much balance and his way of going through the ball. His positioning is unbelievable, his hand speed is good, and he hits the ball far with such minimal effort.
“He’s a phenomenal player, and I think he knows how to construct an innings and score at a rate without taking crazy risks – and that’s such a good thing to see.”
What is more remarkable about his display is, even in the particularly batting-friendly conditions on a flat surface at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium, Brook is only making his second Test appearance after scoring 12 on debut in England’s nine-wicket series-clinching win against South Africa at The Oval in September.
Harry Brook batting vs Pakistan in numbers
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|CricViz expected runs||+90.0||+49.8|
The former England U19 captain had already shown glimpses of his talent during the seven-match international T20 series in Pakistan, including a highest score of 81 not out in a 63-run win in Karachi, even though he may have played only a bit-part role in the subsequent T20 World Cup triumph.
“I remember during the T20 series [against Pakistan], I was hesitant in using the word, but I did in the end – there is a touch of genius about him,” former England batter Mark Butcher told Sky Sports.
“There were some strokes in that series where he ran down, hitting against the spin, over extra cover – like 20 metres over the boundary for six – and you just think they are shots of rare, rare quality and power.
“What a performance he’s put on; the World T20 didn’t go as he would have wished, but you’ve certainly noticed here he can do absolutely anything in this game in whatever format. It looks as if the Test format isn’t one which squashes any of that natural ability and talent.
“These young guys don’t need to be told to come out and express themselves in that way because they’ve grown up doing. You ally that with the environment they’re in at the moment and my goodness.”
Brook’s innings made him England’s top-scorer as they declared on 264-7 at tea, having put on 96 for the fourth wicket with fellow Yorkshireman Joe Root – 73 off 69 balls – as the visitors set a blistering pace with the bat after dismissing Pakistan for 579 earlier in the day.
It is another sign of the attacking mindset the team have employed under head coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes, and former England skipper Nasser Hussain is in no doubt Brook can be at the forefront of that in the future.
“He’s one of those players – and certain players have it – where they hit the ball and you look up, and people on the boundary have 10 yards to go either way and just can’t make it,” Hussain said.
“He’s such a clean striker of the ball; he’s got fast hands, he’s got long levers, and when he hits the ball, his head is right down – he never looks up to see where it has gone.
“That’s a dangerous combination and he’s a real talent. I think everyone in the ground has the feeling he’s going to be a real talent for years to come.”