The Yorkshire batter has been in imperious form at the start of the 2022 LV= Insurance County Championship campaign, reeling off three centuries in six innings and averaging a staggering 158.75.
His tally of 635 puts him top of the Division One run-scorer charts, 75 clear of Ben Compton in second place, and his purple patch comes at the perfect time with a new-look England side on the lookout for fresh blood.
And the visit of rivals Lancashire to Headingley on Thursday provides the perfect opportunity to prove his readiness. England’s record wicket-taker James Anderson is primed to return for the match, as part of his own bid to lock down a comeback for the first Test against New Zealand at the start of June, and the Red Rose also boast international pedigree in the form of Hassan Ali, Saqib Mahmood and Matt Parkinson.
“It’s probably come at a really good time for me to be scoring runs. There are probably going to be a few changes in that England team and if I’m picked then that’s great,” said Brook.
“Lancashire basically have a Test attack, so anybody who scores runs against these boys is obviously a very good player. They’ve got probably the best Test seamer to ever live and another couple of internationals in there as well, so it’s going to be a challenge this week.
“But I feel good batting at the minute. After getting a bit more experience over the winter I think I’ve matured, I know my game a bit better now and I know how to try and score runs in first-class cricket. If I get picked [by England], I get picked; if not, I’ll just keep playing for Yorkshire and trying to score runs for them. I’m not chasing anything too dramatically.”
Brook, 23, had previously made his name on the white-ball circuit, excelling for Northern Supercharges in The Hundred and earning overseas deals in the Pakistan Super League and Big Bash. He made a T20 debut for England in the West Indies in January too, but his experiences in the sprint formats do not appear to have held back his ambitions or aptitude for the longer form.
“For me, I think Test cricket is still the pinnacle,” he said.
“I think that’s the best form of the game. But the Hundred was probably the best competition I’ve played in franchise-wise. The crowds were phenomenal, there was a bit of pressure around it, there were the best players in the country playing against each other and some of the best overseas in the world, so it was outstanding. But at the end of the day it’s still cricket, isn’t it? You’re still hitting a ball coming towards you - red ball or white ball - so I don’t think it should affect you too much. Playing in different competitions, getting to know my game and playing against some of the best players in the world has helped quite a lot. I just think the more cricket you play, the better you’re going to get, so it has been good for me to go away, play cricket and, hopefully, come back a better player.
Former New Zealand captain Brendon McCullum has emerged as the leading candidate to become England’s new Test head coach, according to reports.
With Rob Key, the recently appointed director of England men’s cricket, resolving to split the Test and limited-overs roles, it was widely interpreted that McCullum was in the running for the latter position.
As well as leading the Black Caps to the 2015 World Cup final, he was a trailblazing Twenty20 batter and has developed a close friendship over the years with England white-ball captain Eoin Morgan.
But McCullum also enjoyed a fruitful red-ball career, representing his country in 101 Tests, and was credited with instilling a new philosophy in his time as New Zealand captain between 2013 and 2016 that laid the foundations for their World Test Championship triumph last year under Kane Williamson.
Even though he has never coached a first-class team, the more dynamic outlook he showed at the helm of New Zealand could be appealing to new England Test captain Ben Stokes, whose first assignment will be in a three-match Test series against McCullum’s native Black Caps, starting at Lord’s on June 2.
The 40-year-old McCullum is said to have been interviewed for the position and an announcement on the successful candidate could be made at some point this week.
Gary Kirsten was regarded as the early favourite, having led India to the 2011 World Cup and South Africa to the top of the world Test rankings in 2012, but the ex-Proteas batter could miss out again.
Three years ago, Kirsten was overlooked in favour of Chris Silverwood, who oversaw England in all three formats but was sacked after a chastening 4-0 Ashes defeat in Australia last winter.
Paul Collingwood, who recently took charge of England’s red and white-ball legs in the West Indies, remains in the running to be named head coach of the 50-over and T20 sides but Kirsten’s standing in the game means he could yet become a contender for the position.
While McCullum at Kolkata Knight Riders and Kirsten at Gujarat Titans currently have coaching roles in the Indian Premier League, Key has indicated that would not be a barrier to landing one of the vacant England roles.