Yorkshire best is yet to come, believes Brooks

JACK BROOKS has signed a new contract that will keep him at Yorkshire until the end of 2017 and believes he can improve on his eye-catching efforts of last summer, when he played a key role in helping the club win the County Championship.

Yorkshire's Jack Brooks celebrates after winning the championship.

Brooks took 68 wickets at 28.02 – the best return by a Yorkshire bowler since the move to two divisions in 2000 – beating Steve Kirby’s total of 67 in 2003.

And after putting pen to paper on a deal that guarantees he will spend at least the next three seasons at Headingley, Brooks, 30, insisted he can go from strength to strength.

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“I think I can improve on last year,” said Brooks, who was speaking at Yorkshire’s annual pre-season media day yesterday.

“That’s the exciting thing from my point of view – that I’m still learning and still think I can tighten my game.

“I can certainly improve on my run-rate – not going for as many runs – because it can be quite frustrating at times getting whacked around for boundaries.

“But I deal in wickets – that’s what my job is at the end of the day – and although I need to be a bit more disciplined with line and length, I don’t want to adopt a defensive mindset.”

Brooks’s attacking attitude means he is liable to concede runs at times – a fact understood by his captain and coaches.

Indeed, they have actively encouraged him to do what he does best, which is to take wickets, while the likes of Steve Patterson and Tim Bresnan help keep down the runs at the other end.

However, after a winter spent with England Lions, Brooks knows that an improvement in his economy rate could not only assist Yorkshire but also help him achieve his dream of playing international cricket.

That is approaching a key stage as he proceeds now through his peak years as a professional and can only be helped by the uncertainty surrounding English cricket at the present time, with the side having been unceremoniously eliminated from the World Cup.

“I’ve got to keep myself in the minds of the England guys and keep putting performances in for Yorkshire, which is hopefully what I’ll do again this season,” said Brooks.

“There are obviously places up for grabs (with England) and the international side hasn’t been performing as well as people would like.

“At the same time, it’s easy to say that this guy should be playing or that guy should be playing when the team’s going through a bit of a tough patch.

“Sometimes, it’s a lot easier to be on the outskirts, being the next man in, so to speak, but I’m confident I could do a job if I’m given a game.”

Brooks’s inclusion in the Lions’ tour of South Africa shows he is right up there in the selectors’ thinking.

He enjoyed a steady tour; he did not claim a wicket in his one appearance in the two-match unofficial Test series (although he did score a half-century) and played only one game in the unofficial one-day rubber that followed.

However, Brooks displayed his wicket-taking power with 3-55 in that match in Benoni and is the sort of bowler who, as every Yorkshire supporter knows, can suddenly summon a red-hot spell.

He remains realistic about his hopes of representing the full England side.

“If that chance comes then brilliant, but I’m still some way off it yet,” he reflected.

“At the end of the day, it’s the opinion of the selectors and all I can do is keep putting in the performances for Yorkshire.

“I’m a pretty confident guy – people who know me testify to that – and although I didn’t play as much as I’d have liked for the Lions this winter, I ended the tour pretty strong and took a few wickets in the last one-day game,” he said.

“When I did play I thought I did well, and although I wanted to play every game, we had such a talented squad that when you looked at the names it was ridiculous really.”

Brooks said he is “still flying off the back of last season” and how every Yorkshire supporter will hope that sentiment applies to the side in general.

There will be even more expectation this time – a serious crack at all three competitions is eminently feasible – and Brooks can sense the anticipation.

“There will be a lot of pressure on us, particularly as the champions,” he said. “But we’re not going to get carried away as there are some great teams in there and we don’t want to put too much pressure on ourselves.

“We don’t want to be complacent and I don’t think there’s much chance of that, to be honest.

“We know we’ve got to work hard and, hopefully, I can play my part and hit the ground running.”