‘I feel like I can do anything’: Harry Brook at home in ‘superhuman’ England Test side
Little more than a year on from his England debut, Harry Brook is already a T20 World Cup winner, a virtual lock for this year’s 50-over equivalent and has four Test hundreds to his name.
And so, the question seems a reasonable one: has he found the whole international cricket malarkey easy?
“No, definitely not!” he laughs. “I’d never say any cricket’s easy - it can soon bite you on the arse if you say something like that.
“It’s been a good year and I think I’m very lucky to have come into this Test side especially, with the way we’re trying to play, that positive brand of cricket to entertain the crowd. It suits my game more than any, really.”
The numbers at the end of what has been an astonishing winter back up that claim. Brook spent most of the home summer carrying the drinks before making his Test bow against South Africa at Kia Oval in September, but since breaking into the team more permanently after Jonny Bairstow’s injury, across away series against Pakistan and New Zealand, Brook has averaged 88.55 at a strike-rate just shy of a run-a-ball. The former figure has even suffered slightly for the fact he was run-out without facing by Joe Root in his most recent innings, during the dramatic one-run defeat to New Zealand last month.
The 24-year-old refutes the suggestion that he is already a leader in the ‘Bazball’ way of life (“I’m just following orders!”) but he could hardly be more of a disciple.
“It’s not like we’re just going out and slogging, there is method behind the madness,” he says, of the aggressive approach that now has brought England ten wins in 12 matches under Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum.. “We’re scoring at a quick rate but I don’t feel like I’m going to get out. I feel like I’ve been pumped up with so much confidence before I go out that I feel like I can do anything. When we’re out there, we feel like we’re superhuman.”
It is that attitude - bullish, yes, but also so assured - that as much as his seemingly flawless technique and easy power-hitting have marked Brook out as an oven-ready international cricketer, though he concedes such a composed temperament has not always come naturally.
“Four or five years ago it’d probably have been a different answer but I’ve worked on that side of my game massively,” he says. “To be a successful cricketer for a long period of time you’ve got to be level-headed. If you’re up and down and all over the place, the game will swallow you up.
“One of the big things was that I broke my hand when I was with the U19s, I punched a table after I got out. That was a bit of a turning point. Ever since then, when I’ve got out I’ve just sat down, put my bat away and cracked on.”
These days, the modern, multi-format player has little time to stew on anything. After seven T20s in Pakistan last autumn, Brook flew to Australia for the World Cup - the highlight of his career so far, he says, though a home Ashes win this summer could top it. Then it was back to Pakistan for an historic Test series, Christmas at home, then out to South Africa in the New Year for three ODIs and straight onto New Zealand.
Brook’s life ought to have changed markedly over the last six months, in particular, but he has spent so little time at home he is yet to truly experience it and says he is trying to keep things as they were - in part, by playing “as much golf as I can”.
A first taste of the Indian Premier League is next on the agenda, the Yorkshireman having become the most expensive specialist batter ever sold at the tournament’s auction when signing for Sunrisers Hyderabad for around £1.3million. That stint, where he will be coached by Brian Lara, ought to prove good practice for England’s World Cup defence in the country in October and November.
“Hopefully, I’ll get some good opportunities to express how I’m playing at the minute and show the world I’m capable of scoring runs anywhere,” he adds.
That did not quite extend to Florida, where Brook stopped off on the way home from New Zealand to train with the St. Louis Cardinals baseball team, Thursday marking 100 days until they face the Chicago Cubs in London in the MLB’s annual visit.
“I was hitting into the wind!” Brook insists, admitting he did not quite manage to clear the fence. “The amount of training they do is remarkable. We got there at 7:30am, they had a game at 1pm and they were all in the gym training. We’re rocking up at the minute in Test cricket about an hour before the game!”
As far as the challenge of international cricket goes, Brook has so far been smashing it out of the park.
St. Louis Cardinals will play Chicago Cubs in the MLB World Tour: London Series 2023 on June 24 – 25 at London Stadium. Tickets are available now at ticketmaster.co.uk/mlb