Video - Yorkshire CCC 2016: Jack Brooks insists there is still room for improvement
THE figures speak for themselves.
In 2014, Jack Brooks took 68 County Championship wickets at 28.02.
Last year, he captured 65 Championship wickets at 22.76.
The pace bowler has been Yorkshire’s leading wicket-taker in each of those title-winning campaigns, and few would bet against him repeating such numbers as the club pursue a hat-trick of Championships.
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“Three years of 60-plus wickets plus three titles would be pretty special,” he reflects, “but it’s going to take a lot of hard work.
“Fifty wickets is always my first target, and I’m just hoping that the body stays fit again and I can keep on delivering.
“We’d love to win the Championship again, and I want to play as big a part as possible.
“We know what we’ve achieved, but this isn’t just a one-off or a two-off for this unit, we want to make a bit of a dynasty and some history for ourselves.”
It is around half-a-century since Yorkshire cricket was so strong, with the club winning seven titles between 1959 and 1968.
Yorkshire president John Hampshire – who was part of that golden era – believes the current team are already up there with those greats, and Brooks and his team-mates are determined to leave a lasting legacy.
“No-one is going to stop talking about the great Yorkshire teams of the past, and rightly so,” he said.
“Those guys were history-makers and legends in their own right.
“We just want to be seen to be up there with them.
“You can’t really compare eras, but for a modern-day side to win three titles on the spin would be unheard of.”
That Yorkshire have a chance of doing that is thanks in no small part to Brooks, who joined them from Northamptonshire in time for the 2013 season.
To shine in a line-up saturated with international experience is a feather in the cap for someone who is quick to pay tribute to the work of his colleagues.
“We’ve got a special group of bowlers,” he said.
“We’ve all got different roles and we complement each other well.
“Patto’s job is to bowl dot balls – he likes to get wickets, obviously, but he takes great pride in his run-rate, and it’s good that we’ve got Bresnan and Sidebottom, who are still good enough to play international cricket skills-wise.
“Myself and Patto are good, solid county pros and then you’ve got Liam (Plunkett) and (Adil) Rashid who are international bowlers along with David Willey.”
The depth of Yorkshire’s bowling is not simply confined to the Championship.
Brooks feels they can compete in all three forms of the game.
“It’s stupidly hard to win all three trophies,” he said.
“It would be stupidly special, and it would take a lot of hard work – not to mention a lot of luck along the way.
“But we’ve got the squad and we’ve got the belief, and it’s just about nailing plans and going out and winning games.
“We’ve got a lot of character, a lot of personalities and some weird animals in our squad, so you never know what could happen, and we’ve certainly got as good a chance as anyone.”
Yorkshire certainly have plenty to live up to having won the title last year with record points and record wins.
They did that despite losing several players called away on England duty.
“To break all those records last year with the players we had missing as well shows how strong we are and also says a lot about our character,” said Brooks.
“It says how much pride there is in this team for each other and for the county.
“We can still improve in my view.
“We’ve got a lot of youngsters and guys who are yet to hit their peak, and the bowling attack, as a unit, is always looking to improve.”
At 31, Brooks is pretty much at his peak and he still harbours hopes of playing international cricket.
“I think I need to have that window always open just to improve and to get myself up for games and to get myself out of bed,” he said.
“Even if I was 40 years old and I hadn’t played for England, I would still think I could get a one-off game.
“There’s probably getting less and less of a chance but I always need to have that carrot dangled in front of me.
“I’m not worried about it, to be honest; I just love being part of this great Yorkshire side.”