Brooks enjoys rapid rise to prominence
Jack Brooks’ rise from village cricket to the fringes of the England reckoning continued today as he led a Lions attack which hustled West Indies out for only 147 at Wantage Road.
Brooks, on his home ground and returning to the scene of his first-class debut against Australia at the age of 24 less than three years ago, finished with 3-23.
After the Lions had closed a truncated first day of four on 40 for one in reply, the seamer reflected on his success on a helpful pitch - as well as his late start, then rapid progress, in professional cricket.
“It’s been a bit of a whirlwind couple of years,” he said.
“I’ve enjoyed every last minute, and I hope the ride upwards hasn’t finished yet and I can keep on going.”
Brooks did not rise above Cherwell League cricket with his village team Tiddington until he was into his 20s.
“I played village cricket until I was 20 or 21. I just wasn’t very good when I was younger," he added.
“Physically, mentally - certainly mentally, I wasn’t ready for it. I still had the mentality of a club cricketer.
“I’m still a glorified club cricketer now. But I’ve worked really hard on my game and my fitness over the years - with a few gentle pushes along the way from coaches over the years, who’ve told me to start believing in my ability.”
Brooks, Stuart Meaker, who claimed 3-42, and fellow seamers Jade Dernbach and Matt Coles were delighted when Lions captain James Taylor won the toss under heavy cloud cover and after overnight rain.
“We were all licking our lips the last couple of days; we knew what conditions would be, pretty much," added Brooks.
“There is always a bit in it on this deck anyway for the seamers, even in August when they’re a bit hard, but we bowled very well as a unit today, and got our rewards.”
Occasionally, the swinging ball seemed to do a little too much.
“It was a little bit wide at times, if anything, a little bit too short. But I knew if I got it right I’d be in the game,” said Brooks.
“Meaks proved that as well, with his spell from the bottom end.”
Darren Bravo had looked a cut above the rest of his Windies team-mates, until a mis-calculated pull to Brooks at mid-on saw him depart for 51.
“He played very nicely when he got going. That partnership [with Marlon Samuels] was shaping up nicely,” said Brooks.
“Luckily we had four wickets before that. So we were always in a good place; if we got one of them out there might be a little collapse on that sort of deck - I don’t think a batsman ever feels completely in on it.”
Brooks’ signature is the headband he always wears while bowling, to help keep his mane of brown hair under control.
Today he swapped his regular county headband for a special Lions version.
“I put the Northants brown in my pocket, just in case,” he added. “But I thought I’d go for ECB colours.
“I’m a big sweater and I’ve got long hair, and it keeps it out of my eyes.
“I came into the game with a headband and long hair, and figured I might as well continue with it. I look silly with short hair anyway.”