Yorkshire CCC prepare for life without Harry Brook with England call expected

YORKSHIRE are bracing themselves for the loss of yet another star talent as they grapple with the perennial problem of having to produce players only to then potentially lose them to England.

TOP FORM: Harry Brook excelled in the COunty Championship for Yorkshire this season Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com
TOP FORM: Harry Brook excelled in the COunty Championship for Yorkshire this season Picture by John Clifton/SWpix.com

Barring an act of God or the end of days, Harry Brook will be the next cab off the rank in terms of Yorkshire cricketers to represent his country.

The 22-year-old had an excellent season, culminating in being named the Professional Cricketers’ Association Young Player of the Year and also being picked in the Men’s Team of the Year. He could even debut for England this winter.

Andrew Gale, the Yorkshire first-team coach, believes that Brook could possibly feature in the Ashes series and/or on England’s tour to the West Indies next spring.

IMPRESSIVE: Yorkshire's Harry Brook was the top run-scorer for the Northern Superchargers in The Hundred. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

A place on the England Lions tour that shadows the Ashes squad is surely a given at the very least.

Brook could also be in demand for the Australian Big Bash, given that he was the fourth-highest run-scorer in the T20 Blast this season with 486 at 69.42, with a strike-rate of just under 150.

The Keighley-born right-hander also topped the run-scoring charts for Northern Superchargers in The Hundred.

Either way, it seems a question of when, not if, Brook will follow the likes of current Yorkshire squad members Joe Root, Jonny Bairstow, Adil Rashid, Dawid Malan, David Willey, Dom Bess, Gary Ballance and Adam Lyth into the international set-up, all of whom the club has had to do without to a greater or lesser extent over the years.

Yorkshire's Harry Brook celebrates his century against Somerset this summer. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com

Contemplating the potential loss of another top player, which would leave another hole in an already porous batting department, Gale said: “Unfortunately, that’s the nature of the beast with us being a big county, and it’s frustrating because selfishly as head coach you want players who are either on the way down or on the way up who aren’t quite good enough yet to play for England.

“So we find ourselves in a situation where we’ve nurtured someone like Harry for the last three years, given him opportunities and brought the best out of him, and he could potentially be playing for England this winter either in the Ashes or in some white-ball cricket in the West Indies, and you’re back to square one nurturing someone else.

“We have got some good young players coming through – young Matthew Revis played well in our last game of the season and showed what he can do, for example, but it takes time to bring players through and then they need opportunity and they only get better by playing.

“It’s a tough one because we want to bring our own players through but selfishly you don’t want them to be so good that they play for England, but that’s part and parcel of us being a big county.”

RELIANT: Yorkshire's Adam Lyth bats against Sussex, bookending a hit and miss season with centuries. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

While Gale grapples with the challenge of having to replace players that Yorkshire have developed, a challenge which he and the coaching staff have risen to well if the talent brought in for the Royal London Cup last season was any indication, he is delighted with how Brook has gone.

The former England Under-19 captain clearly remains a work in progress as one so young, but he has added greater maturity to his batting to go with the natural flair and style.

“Harry’s had a tremendous season,” added Gale, for whom Brook scored 1,283 runs in the County Championship and T20 Blast combined.

“We’ve been hanging on this season for a few years now, saying that it’s coming, this breakthrough year, and I think that’s exactly what he’s had, a breakthrough year in all formats.

“Particularly in white-ball, he’s been outstanding but, even in red-ball, he’s made a couple of hundreds and is definitely going in the right direction. He’s definitely made some really good progress.”

If Brook is missing for long periods going forward, with Yorkshire rarely seeing much these days of their England contingent, it would put even more onus on the two great stalwarts of their batting line-up – Lyth and Ballance.

With both those left-handers having seemingly played their last international cricket, although one would argue that they should have had more opportunities, Yorkshire could need them more than ever if they are to realistically challenge for the Championship in particular.

Both had their challenges to deal with last summer; Lyth started the season superbly, bringing talk of an England recall back on to the radar, before a dip which ended with a magnificent century in the final game of the season at Notts. Ballance averaged 45 in the Championship but missed a few fixtures through injury and illness.

Their importance to Yorkshire cannot be overstressed.