Northamptonshire v Yorkshire: Dawid Malan backs Harry Brook to rise to Test status

DAWID MALAN is ready to drop down the Yorkshire batting order to give Harry Brook a better chance of playing Test cricket.

Sri Lanka's captain Dimuth Karunaratne in action against West Indies in Galle last November. Picture: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images
Sri Lanka's captain Dimuth Karunaratne in action against West Indies in Galle last November. Picture: ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP via Getty Images

Malan said he would happily make the sacrifice if it helps Brook to achieve his international dream.

Brook bats at No 5 in the line-up and has made a success of that position.

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But to make the jump to the highest level, where technique and temperament is more obviously tested, Malan said his young colleague would ultimately benefit from greater exposure to tougher batting conditions when the ball is newer and the bowlers fresher.

Harry Brook on his way to a century against Gloucestershire last week. Picture: Michael Steele/Getty Images)

Speaking ahead of today’s County Championship match against Northamptonshire at Wantage Road, where Yorkshire will be looking to make it two wins out of two after victory in their opening game at Gloucestershire, Malan said: “Brooky’s definitely got the talent [to play Test cricket].

“The development I’ve seen from him has been massive in terms of learning how to win games and how to play situations in the game. He’s becoming a senior player who’s learning on his feet.

“Scoring runs at five in county cricket… of course, you still have to score those runs, you still have to score big runs. But if you’re going to be playing for England, you probably want to be scoring those runs a little bit higher, and how and when he moves up the order that’s obviously for the team management to decide.

“But I’m very happy to move down to five or six to allow him to go four, or whatever. I think the club knows that [the situation]. I think Patto [captain Steve Patterson] knows that and Brooky probably knows that as well. At the end of the day, he’s getting better and better and the last thing you want to do is rush him.

England's Dawid Malan walks off after being dismissed during day three of the fourth Ashes test in Sydney. Picture: Jason O'Brien/PA

“The best process for him is to keep scoring runs and let him score runs and, when the time’s right, he’ll probably get to a four or a three and hopefully push for that England spot.”

Brook, 23, scored a century from No 5 in the win at Gloucestershire and is one of the country’s hottest young prospects. There are a few of them about – Gloucestershire’s James Bracey provided a timely reminder of his quality with a career-best 177 in the same match, while the likes of Sussex’s Tom Haines have recently impressed.

Brook, who also scored a hundred from No 5 in the corresponding match against Northants last summer, which Yorkshire won inside three days, has made no secret of his desire to play Test cricket. He had a taste of international cricket in the winter when he played in a T20 game against West Indies in Barbados and, although he is an outstanding white-ball player, he also loves the red-ball format.

“I still think Test cricket is the pinnacle,” said Brook after his latest century. “I want to play Test cricket, but I’m not really thinking about what’s happening in the England camp at the minute.

“I’m just trying to focus on my game and trying to win as many games for Yorkshire as I can. I’m trying not to think about England at all.”

Malan, 34, is in a similar boat after a tough Ashes tour in which he scored 244 runs across the five Tests.

It remains to be seen what direction England go in this summer once a new leadership team has been put in place.

“It was a tough winter – tough how it all sort of ended after the Ashes,” said Malan.

“For me, it’s just about playing cricket and doing as well as I can for Yorkshire, and whatever happens, happens.”

“It’s good to see Rob Key getting the job [as managing director of England men’s cricket].

“Hopefully that’s the first step to getting a few things in place at the ECB because it’s been a tough time with no one being in power positions so, hopefully, Rob can start getting things in order,” he added.

Malan also played his part in the victory at Gloucestershire. His second innings 65 was a stylish affair and helped Yorkshire to chase down 211 to win by six wickets.

“It was nice to find the middle of the bat,” he said modestly.

“It’s just nice to be back playing cricket again. It was pleasing to start with a win because Gloucester made us work really hard.

“The games are coming thick and fast now and I think the challenge we have is managing our workloads, managing our bowlers, during this period of six [back-to-back] games.”

One bowler who will not be featuring this week is Ben Coad, who aggravated a groin problem ahead of the Gloucestershire fixture which he sustained on the club’s pre-season tour.

Dimuth Karunaratne, the Sri Lanka captain and top-order batsman, will make the first of three Championship appearances after signing a short-term overseas deal.

Yorkshire (from): Bess, Brook, Duke, Fisher, Hill, Karunaratne, Loten, Lyth, Malan, Patterson (captain), Rauf, Revis, Thompson, Wharton.