Jack Brooks says last weekend’s Roses century did not fully heal the frustration of missing the first six weeks of the season through injury.
Brooks sat out Yorkshire’s first three Specsavers County Championship matches having torn his calf on the club’s pre-season tour of Dubai in mid-March. That meant the Roses draw with Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford was his first senior appearance of 2017.
And what a way to announce his return.
He hit 109 off 155 balls with seven fours and five sixes to help his side recover from 178-6 and record his maiden first-class ton. The former Northants man shared a Roses record ninth-wicket partnership of 167 with fellow centurion Jack Leaning to help his side post 448-8 declared in their first innings.
“I don’t like missing games,” said Brooks ahead of Friday’s return clash at Headingley. Getting injured at any time is the worst part for a cricketer, any sportsman. Having dealt with two calf injuries, and having had chronic knee and achilles injuries for a part of my career, it’s been about getting my legs as strong as possible.
“It didn’t quite make up for what I’ve missed over the last few weeks, but it’s one of those weird things in cricket how quickly you can flip it around.
After some early strife with the bat at Old Trafford, Yorkshire had the better of the contest and were the most likely winners. They remain unbeaten in Roses four-day cricket since 2011 and are confident of enhancing that record and claiming a second win of the campaign this weekend, especially with a bit more life expected in the pitch.
Lancashire will be without injured Jimmy Anderson and batsman Liam Livingstone due to England Lions duty against South Africa A. While both will be missed, Ryan McLaren is ready to step up once more.
McLaren has no qualms about taking on the added responsibility of leading Lancashire’s bowling attack in their Specsavers County Championship match against Yorkshire at Headingley this weekend. The all-rounder will be the senior man in an attack. Jordan Clark is a possible returnee to the Red Rose line-up for the second of back-to-back Roses clashes having missed last weekend’s draw at Emirates Old Trafford with a back problem.
South African McLaren says the extra responsibility is “nothing foreign” to him, and he will be hoping to continue his impressive start to the new season across the Pennines from Friday. McLaren has so far taken 14 wickets from four matches, more than any other Lancashire bowler, while he has also scored 159 runs, including 84 against the White Rose.
“It's something that I've done, be it in county cricket or back in South Africa,” he said. I've had to lead attacks for quite a long time now. It's nothing new or different. I've been on the other side of it when I've got hurt and other guys have had to take on the workload. It's part of bowling. In terms of responsibility and taking leadership, it's nothing foreign.”
Despite McLaren’s healthy start to the four-day campaign, contributing to Lancashire’s unbeaten start of three draws and a win, the former international is not completely happy.
“In one-day cricket, it was extremely frustrating and disappointing from a bowling point of view, personally,” he explained.
“The standards that I'd set myself, I felt like I'd let the team down in a certain way. It was a really frustrating few weeks. To come back in the four-day game and bowl the way I did, I was pretty pleased (2-60 from 30.3 overs in the first innings against Yorkshire).
“With a bit more luck here and there, I could have had a few more wickets. But that's part of the game. There are other games where you will bowl a lot worse and end up with five-for. I'm pretty happy.”
The two sides are expected to encounter a livelier pitch than the one they were presented with at Old Trafford, with Yorkshire confident of extending a near six-year unbeaten run in county cricket’s standout fixture.
“It's about being mentally sharp and strong, showing a lot of character and keeping that consistency from a bowling point of view. Firstly to stay competitive and, secondly, when that opportunity comes when the conditions do suit, you're really up for it and take them.”
Lancashire sit fourth in the table and six points clear of Yorkshire in fifth. The Red Rose are 17 points behind early pacesetters Essex with a game in hand.