Chris Waters: Jack Brooks '“ more than just '˜a bit of a village idiot from Tiddington'
IT would not be stretching the point to suggest that Jack Brooks is one of the best signings that Yorkshire have made in their long and proud history.
Recruited from Northamptonshire at the end of the 2012 season, the pace bowler has been a key component in their recent success, injecting skill, firepower, and more than a dash of charismatic colour.
One of the game’s characters, Brooks has been at the fulcrum of Yorkshire’s endeavours since then.
In 2014, when they won the first of back-to-back County Championship titles, the right-armer captured 71 first-class wickets at 27.33 and, the following year, bagged 69 wickets at 22.24, with another 60-wicket season following in 2016.
Bowling against Surrey at The Oval the other day, Brooks, 33, took his 400th wicket in first-class cricket. Getting on for three-quarters of those have come in Yorkshire colours, the milestone all the more remarkable for the fact that Brooks did not make his debut for Northamptonshire until he was 25.
A village cricketer until the age of 20, he worked his way up with minor county Oxfordshire and briefly represented the Surrey second XI before signing for Northamptonshire.
Since then, his career has gone from strength to strength, his modest contention some years back that he was just “a bit of a village idiot from Tiddington” who had got lucky emphatically disproved – not least when he was chosen for England Lions duty.
In many ways, Brooks has been the perfect signing at county level. He is right up there at the top of the tree in terms of county standard but has just missed out on full England recognition, ensuring maximum availability for Yorkshire – injuries notwithstanding.
That Brooks has reached 400 wickets so quickly, despite having had more than his share of injuries over the years, has made his achievement even more special.
It also emphasises that he is, first and foremost, a wicket-taker, a man with a proven ability to fire out the best players in often magical spells that captivate spectators.
Indeed, the sight of the man affectionately called “The Headband Warrior” wheeling away in celebration has become a routine one in recent times, with Brooks’s enthusiasm transmitting itself to the Yorkshire spectators, who quickly took him to their hearts.
It is that enthusiasm and that sense of a man who clearly enjoys his craft, which sums up Brooks’s appeal to the Yorkshire public.
They recognise not only his skill but also his endeavour, the fact that he gives everything to the White Rose cause.
Brooks wears his heart on his sleeve and is a natural showman, a man whose joys and disappointments are simultaneously obvious. He is a little bit mad in the nicest sense of the word, but then pace bowling has never been a calling for the tediously sane.
Nor is he just a one-trick pony. Brooks often jokes about his batting and makes light of his skill in that regard, but he has a first-class hundred to his name and three fifties, too.
A Brooks innings is always worth watching, as it is an extension of his attacking and aggressive instincts. That crowd-pleasing element is ever present.
A late starter, Brooks has been making up for lost time for the best part of a decade – and he still has plenty more left in the tank as he pushes on towards 500 wickets.