Unbeaten Brook sees Ilkley rise to the challenge

INEVITABLE wasn’t it? That the 2012 Yorkshire Post Schools Cricket Challenge final would be rained off at Headingley Carnegie yesterday and concluded indoors.

Inevitable also that Ilkley Grammar School captain Harry Brook would be the star of the show with an unbeaten century – fuelling dreams that a big-money bet placed by his late grandad Tony may bear rich fruit.

He backed his grandson at big odds to play for both England and Yorkshire when the youngster was just 18 months old.

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Brook’s grandmother Pauline now holds that betting ticket, her late husband reportedly having had £1,000 on his grandson to play for England and £100 to represent Yorkshire.

Yesterday, the Burley CC starlet helped Ilkley Grammar beat off Harrogate Grammar in an exciting final played at Yorkshire’s Indoor Cricket Facility.

The success was Ilkley Grammar’s second in 11 years following another triumph back in 2001.

The elements were at least kind enough to allow the semi-finals to be staged on the hallowed turf but both last-four ties were hugely one-sided as Freeston Academy of Normanton and Hayfield School of Doncaster were blitzed by Ilkley and Harrogate respectively.

There was no disgrace in being beaten semi-finalists with 110 schools having entered the Under-13s competition which is now in its 21st year.

No shame either in Harrogate falling to a talented Ilkley side featuring Brook. The starlet already plays for Yorkshire Under-13s and on yesterday’s evidence it was easy to see why.

Hailing the youngster who was star of both the semi-final and final, Ilkley Grammar coach Andrew Jennings admitted: “Harry is a fantastic player and I’ve been fortunate enough to see him grow up and come through the ranks.

“I remember watching his dad David bowl bouncers at him as a four-year-old and they have got some terrific cricketers in their family as Burley’s Nick Brook and Richard Brook are his uncles.

“Harry is tipped for certainly Yorkshire I would suggest and who knows beyond that what will happen but he is a fantastic player and a stand-out talent in a very talented team.”

Assessing his side’s achievement as a whole, Jennings added: “It’s always a bit of a lottery indoors and to be honest Yorkshire have done a fantastic job to get even one game on.

“The weather has been diabolical and it pretty much typifies our summer really.

“Credit to Harrogate as well who put up a fantastic show but we have been consistent all the way through the competition and performed collectively as a team really well. We’re immensely proud of the lads.

“Winning it twice in 11 years is also testament to the strong league cricket we have got locally.”

Every one of Ilkley’s winning team plays for either Burley or Olicanians with Brook’s star turn undoubtedly his effort in the semi-final against Freeston Academy.

Their bowling attack was blown apart as the eventual winners made 197-1 declared.

Brook led the way with a mesmerising knock of 108 not out but Harry Patterson (46no) and Daniel Revis (21) offered valuable support.

Revis (4-7), Daniel Robinson (2-8) and Tom Weir (1-0 from three overs) then skittled Freeston for 86.

Harrogate Grammar’s semi-final triumph against Hayfield was similarly comfortable – the Doncaster outfit making only 37 as captain Matt Sands (3-16), Seb Clancy (2-16), George Hampson (2-13) and Tom Stark (2-4) all claimed key wickets.

Hampson and Christian King then eased Harrogate home for a 10-wicket victory achieved just before the daily July downpour that put paid to the final being played outside.

After a lengthy lunch break, the final and third-placed play-off then began side by side simultaneously in a kwik-cricket type format but Ilkley’s Brook proved just as adept at the indoor game.

In a game reduced to just 10 overs a side, he eased his way to an unbeaten 47 with only Patterson (11) joining him in double figures as a target of 68-5 was set. Harrogate’s Hampson (1-11), Clancy (1-10) and Sands (1-10) all impressed in the field but their side never looked like overhauling Ilkley Grammar’s target.

In the end, they were all out for just 31 with Revis (2-4) leading the way with the ball though Brook (1-10) is also a fine bowler.

Off the attack of Max Curran (1-11), Patterson secured the wicket of Sands with a match-winning catch with star man Brook fittingly collecting the winner’s shield in the post-match presentation.

Hayfield School also beat off Freeston Academy for third-place but the day belonged to Ilkley Grammar and class act Brook.

Harrogate Grammar coach Chris McDonald admitted Brook’s late grandad certainly knew what he was doing at the bookies.

“That bet could have been a wise move!” he laughed.

“He’s been fantastic and we were watching him in the semis and some of his shots were lovely and while Ilkley are a strong team anyway, he has been the difference.

“But we have beaten some good teams to get this far and put in some good performances so the players have got nothing to be ashamed of. I am proud of them all.

“They are a bit disappointed and they need to keep their chins up as Ilkley were the better team.”

And the thoughts of star man Brook?

“It was a brilliant day, I’m glad that we won and it was brilliant getting a century at the home of Yorkshire,” he said.

“One day I want to play for Yorkshire and hopefully I will – hopefully England.”

Grandmother Pauline also hopes so and is waiting to collect.