Middlesex v Yorkshire: Harry Brook looks part at Lord’s but visitors struggle

Harry Brook, pictured with former Yorkshire player and legendary Test umpire Dickie Bird.
Harry Brook, pictured with former Yorkshire player and legendary Test umpire Dickie Bird.

SOME teenagers would be fazed by making their County Championship debut at the home of cricket.

Not Harry Brook.

The 18-year-old took to the grandest stage of all with the surety of a veteran twice his age.

He scored 38 as Yorkshire made 186-9 on day two in reply to Middlesex’s 446, Gary Ballance top-scoring for the visitors with an unbeaten 53 as the home side took a vice-like grip.

It was not the size of Brook’s contribution that caught the eye; after all, an innings of 38 fell somewhat betwixt and between in terms of success and failure on a day when the batting failed as a collective.

It was the style and serenity that the young man showed.

There was something Joe Root-like in the way that he set up at the crease and how he played the ball late from under his eyes.

Comparisons are invariably made whenever new men appear, justified or not, but the upshot was this: Brook can bat and he looked the part.

“It was a good start, but it’s not what I wanted really,” said the 
lissom right-hander, who hails from Keighley.

“I’d like to have kicked on from there.

“We’re not in the best situation after our batting performance, and if they put us back in we’ll have to do a better job with the bat and try and get a big lead and bowl them out.

“But it’s a good place to make your debut, and my grandma and uncle were watching in the stand.”

When Brook came to the crease on a broiling afternoon, with the temperature once again up in the 30s, Yorkshire were 18-1 after the loss of Alex Lees.

It had been a fine day up to then for the visitors, who had fought back well after the hosts resumed on 337-4, a fightback that said much for their fitness as well as their skill and persistence considering the hostile heat in the capital.

Brook got off the mark from his ninth ball with an on-driven three off Toby Roland-Jones in the direction of the Allen Stand, and his first boundary followed when he edged Tim Murtagh on the ground through the slip area for four towards the pavilion.

It was a rare streaky shot, and Brook’s first authentic boundary arrived when he opened the blade to steer Ryan Higgins to the short cover boundary in front of the Mound Stand, a stroke of nerve-steadying authority.

Brook, who made a golden duck on his only previous first-class innings, against Pakistan A at Headingley last year, had scored three hundreds in his last four second-team innings, which compelled Yorkshire to give him a go here in preference to Jack Leaning.

He took another boundary off Higgins when he cut him clinically, while perhaps the pick of his six fours was when he off-drove Steven Finn to the foot of the pavilion, a stroke as resplendent as the summer’s day.

Brook deserved a half-century, but fell to the first ball of the second over after tea, defending the spin of Ollie Rayner into the hands of short-leg.

It was a sharp catch by Stevie Eskinazi as Brook played the delivery off the back foot, and it set the tone for an evening session dominated by the hosts.

Yorkshire collapsed from 82-1 just before tea, although there looked to be significant question marks over the first two wickets.

Lees was lbw to a ball from Roland-Jones that replays appeared to show pitched outside leg stump, while there looked to be daylight between Adam Lyth’s bat and the ball as he withdrew the blade to a delivery from Higgins from which he was given out caught behind.

After Brook’s departure, Peter Handscomb drove loosely at Roland-Jones and was caught at first slip, while Adil Rashid chopped on to Finn as he tried to force through the offside off the back foot.

Andrew Hodd played on when trying to pull Murtagh, Steve Patterson was bowled by Higgins, who then bowled Jack Brooks with a shooter on a pitch displaying increasingly variable bounce.

Ballance survived several lbw shouts and a dropped catch on 34 when Sam Robson grassed a difficult chance at first slip, diving to his right off Murtagh, that would have left Yorkshire 150-9.

Ben Coad was caught behind wafting at Finn just before stumps, but captain Ballance survived, with Yorkshire still 111 short of avoiding the possibility of being asked to follow-on.

Earlier, Coad and Ryan Sidebottom shared four wickets as Yorkshire came back into the contest in the morning session.

Coad removed overnight centurion Robson, who drove lavishly and edged behind, having made 159 from 290 balls with 19 fours.

In a fine spell from the Nursery End, Coad then bowled Higgins before John Simpson chopped on to Sidebottom one short of a half-century.

Rayner dollied a miscued pull off Sidebottom to Patterson at mid-on, and Rashid rounded off the innings after lunch by having Roland-Jones caught at cover by Handscomb and Finn lbw to a ball that kept low as he went back.

Rashid finished with 3-94 and the tireless Sidebottom 3-69.