JACK BROOKS is relishing a run in Yorkshire’s T20 team having not played the format for over three years.
Prior to this season’s tournament, the pace bowler’s last T20 match for the club was in June, 2015.
Brooks has played six group games this summer and had a particularly important role in two of them, recording three-wicket hauls in the home wins over Durham and Leicestershire.
It has lifted his tally of T20 appearances for Yorkshire to 19 since he joined the county in late 2012, games that have brought him 20 wickets at an average of 23.95.
“It’s just nice to be playing T20 and given the opportunity,” said Brooks, who has primarily made his reputation in red-ball cricket.
“I back my skills and I like to keep my game-plan very simple – I just try and bowl quick and straight, use the bumper, and, hopefully, the pitches will help me out.
We had a little minor blip – a couple of games against Derby, but the odd loss isn’t always the worst thing because it helps you sort of reset where you need to be.Jack Brooks
“I’ve had seven wickets this year in six T20 games, which is all right and it’s going along nicely. I know that if I take a bunch, two or three, it’s more than likely going to contribute to a win.”
Having not played T20 for so long, Brooks admits that he had some catching-up to do in terms of the way the format has evolved.
Totals are going up all the time, with no hiding place for seamers or spinners, meaning that bowlers have had to get smarter and adapt.
“I work a little bit more on my change-ups and my yorkers than I used to,” he said. “Not only do you never know when you could be used, but it’s a lot more important these days because the modern batter is so good.
“To be honest, I was a little bit apprehensive when I first came back.
“But, at the same time, I realised it was still Twenty20 cricket and that I’ve just got to try and back my skills.”
At 34, Brooks’s desire to play as often as possible remains undimmed.
He is still in demand, with Yorkshire having offered him a new two-year contract to go with a three-year bid from rivals Somerset.
While he privately weighs up the pros and cons, what can be stated with certainty is that Brooks’s love for Yorkshire still burns strong.
As befits a natural showman, a man whose wicket-taking celebrations are as legendary as his famous headband, Brooks is particularly looking forward to Yorkshire’s next T20 match – the sell-out home tie with Lancashire at Headingley tomorrow.
“The Roses games – everyone looks forward to them,” he said.
“They’re the biggest domestic games in the season, and although this one isn’t on a Friday night, you still get the Thursday night lights, the big crowd, the Sky cameras, and it’s a chance to showcase your skills.
“I remember playing in the tied Roses T20 here a few years ago, when Siddy (Ryan Sidebottom) bowled that last over, and the atmosphere was incredible.
“I think I was down at third man and I couldn’t hear anything on the field; the crowd was unbelievable; people were whacking on the advertising hoardings and going absolutely bananas, and if you’re out in the middle, you can’t hear anything.”
Brooks is striving to help Yorkshire all the way to their first T20 trophy.
They are well-placed to qualify for the quarter-finals as they head into their last four group games, which continue after tomorrow with a trip to Notts on Friday, a visit to Brooks’s former club Northants tomorrow week, followed by the home game with Notts 24 hours later.
“We’re in a good position at the minute,” he said. “We can’t complain. The priority is to get out of the group, and we’re sitting pretty for that, but there’s still plenty of cricket to go and we need to keep our form up.
“We had a little minor blip – a couple of games against Derby, but the odd loss isn’t always the worst thing because it helps you sort of reset where you need to be.
“As long as we’re getting the process right and preparing properly, which we are doing, and going out with the right energy and intensity, we can build on that.”
Brooks continued: “We’ve got a lot of match-winners and, if a number of lads bring their A-games, we’re a very difficult team to beat.
“The top-three all like to play their shots, so if one of them comes off we invariably get a massive score, and, if they don’t, we’ve got one of the world’s best players at four (Kane Williamson), who can just game-manage through the middle; the last two innings from him have been unbelievable.
“At our absolute full strength, with the players we’ve got at our disposal, and when everyone’s at their best, we don’t look like we’re ever going to lose.
“But that’s not the way it happens, of course, and it only takes somebody to have a day out for the opposition and you can be up against it.
“That’s the exciting thing about the Roses games as well, because they tend to bring the best out of everyone, so I’m really looking forward to it.”