JACK BROOKS believes he is “nowhere near” the England set-up despite being the joint-leading wicket-taker in first-class cricket.
The Yorkshire pace bowler has captured 29 wickets at an average of 24.68.
Only England’s Steven Finn is on a par with him, and although Brooks’s performances are garnering attention, he is realistic about his prospects of playing for his country.
“I’m nowhere near the set-up at the minute,” said Brooks, who represented England Lions in 2012.
“I spent a bit of time in the system when England were the best team in the world and I didn’t get a sniff, so I’m not going to start getting carried away now.
“For me to even get talked about playing for England is fantastic from where I was a few years ago because I haven’t been in the game that long.
“But I don’t want to think about it (England) too much to be honest.”
Brooks, who will lead the line against his former club Northamptonshire at Wantage Road today, believes he has some way to go to merit a crack at the highest level.
It is his Yorkshire team-mate Liam Plunkett who is being spoken of as the more likely England candidate at present.
“If England happens for me at some point, great, but there’s no point getting too excited,” said Brooks.
“It’s the old cliche, but I just want to keep churning out wickets and see where it takes me.
“I still feel I need to be more consistent to be classed as good enough to be selected by England.
“I’ve had a couple of average games this season but every now and then the animal in me comes out and I get a few wickets in a spell and change a game, but I need to be more consistent with that.”
It is level-headed stuff from Brooks, who only came to the first-class game aged 25.
He has had his injury problems – not least a broken thumb that kept him out for six weeks last summer – but, touch wood, remains fighting fit this year.
“My first season was only in 2009 and then in 2010 and 2011 I got out the blocks really quick for Northants and felt as though I could take a wicket every ball,” he said.
“That was in Division Two, though, and I knew I had to tighten my skills coming to Yorkshire in Division One.
“Last year, the broken thumb set me back but, hopefully, I can avoid getting hit again this season
“The rest of my body feels fine, and I think I’ve proved now that I’m not injury prone.”
Brooks is relishing his return to Wantage Road.
He played there earlier this year for Yorkshire in a two-day friendly but this will be his first “proper” return.
“It’s my first serious game back there,” he said.
“We had the friendly there back in April but it wasn’t the same atmosphere.
“It will be a little bit weird being in the away dressing room but we’ve played them a couple of times now in different forms since I came to Yorkshire, so that’s all been put to bed, I think.
“Luckily, I managed to turn in a pretty decent performance when we beat them by an innings at Headingley earlier in the year, so I’ve got plenty of confidence going into the game.”
Brooks, who will be watched by his parents, who live in Oxford, believes it is a match both sides ideally need to win.
Yorkshire, third in the table, cannot afford to lose ground in the title race, while Northamptonshire are desperate to climb off the bottom.
“It’s a game we need to try to win,” he said.
“They ideally need to win the game, too, so they might want to leave something in the wicket for the bowlers.
“So far in our away games, we’ve come across a lot of flat wickets, and whether that’s because teams have looked at our attack, I don’t know.
“But it’s something we need to be aware of going into away matches and that some teams might want to shut up shop against us early doors.”
Brooks remains good friends with several of the Northamptonshire squad, including injured limited-overs captain Alex Wakely.
He believes his former team can climb up the league.
“I’m sure they’ll regroup,” he said.
“In their first game, against Durham, they battled really hard and just nicked a draw, but against us they obliterated themselves really.
“Since then they’ve had a couple of games in which their batting has been a bit frail and they’re finding that Division One can be tough.
“I spoke to Alex Wakely recently and he said it’s a tough place to be at the minute after a couple of Championship defeats.
“But they have done better in the T20 and they’ve got some good players; they just need to start finding some form and confidence.”