Henry Brookes is loving his first taste of Vitality Blast cricket with Birmingham Bears – and relishing what is just the latest challenge of his highly impressive breakthrough season.
Eighteen-year-old fast-bowler Brookes, a product of the Edgbaston academy, began this season with just one first-class appearance for Warwickshire behind him.
But he has seized his opportunities so emphatically this year that he has become a regular pick in all three formats.
Given his chance in the Blast, Brookes has responded brilliantly to top the Bears’ bowling averages with five wickets at just 18.20 apiece. Those wickets have contributed hugely to the team’s strong start to the group, not least last Sunday when Yorkshire were demolished by eight wickets at Edgbaston.
"I enjoy coming back as the death bowler – that’s the sort of challenge I like to take on. I never shy away from things. I haven’t quite got it right in the last two games but hopefully I will in the next one."
Ed Pollock’s explosive batting attracted most headlines but the path to victory was set right at the start when Brookes, on his home debut, dismissed the dangerous Adam Lyth with the second ball of the match.
“There is always a great atmosphere at Edgbaston so it was great to play my first T20 home game in front of a big crowd,” he said. “It’s a quicker format and I have really enjoyed how it’s gone so far. There were a few nerves flying round on my debut but I just tried to fly in and hit the deck quite hard and it came off pretty nicely.
“I’ve loved it. I enjoy coming back as the death bowler – that’s the sort of challenge I like to take on. I never shy away from things. I haven’t quite got it right in the last two games but hopefully I will in the next one.
“If someone told me at the start of the season that all this was going to happen I would never have believed them, but it’s coming out nicely so I have just got to stick to what I do well and hopefully it will carry on.”
Brookes’ eye-catching entry into county cricket, with bat as well as ball, earned him inclusion in the recent England Lions squad. The first half of this season has advanced far beyond expectations but part of the reason for his success is a grounded temperament similar to his predecessor out of the Warwickshire academy, Chris Woakes.
“I try not to overthink things,” Brookes said. “If you do that you can get yourself in a tricky situation so I try to keep things very simple.
“It’s also great to have such a lot of knowledge in our changing-room. That really helps and we have got a lot of very good T20 players who have played a lot of games so I just try to take as much from them as possible.”