JONNY BAIRSTOW has praised rising star Harry Brook, but warned people not to expect too much too soon from the young Yorkshire batsman.
Bairstow has been impressed with 19-year-old Brook, who has made an excellent start to his county career.
Brook scored his maiden first-class hundred in Yorkshire’s stunning comeback win at Essex, and Bairstow said: “Harry has a huge amount of gift and talent.
“We’re very lucky to have someone like him and, hopefully, we’ve got a couple more coming through, too.
“At the same time he’s straight out of school, straight out of playing schoolboy cricket and Under-19s, and that’s not easy.
“To come into Division One cricket like he has done, naturally there is going to be a bedding-in period.”
Brook has looked the part since being preferred over other strong candidates for a top-order place.
Although he did not make a sizeable score in his first five knocks of the County Championship season he still produced a number of handy contributions in conditions that favoured the bowlers.
As such it was no surprise when his sixth innings, against Essex at Chelmsford on Saturday, saw him leave his previous first-class career-best of 38 for dead as he struck 124 against the champions.
It helped Yorkshire recover after being bowled out for 50 in their first innings, the visitors scoring 329 in their second innings before eventually winning by 91 runs.
“Harry played a brilliant innings,” said Bairstow.
“The way that he played through mid-off and through the covers, for example, that was special.
“They were proper cricket shots, and naturally there’s high hopes for him.
“He had a brilliant winter (with England Under-19s) and he’s carried that on.”
Although Brook’s innings was the top score of the match, Bairstow contributed a game-changing fifty.
Promoted to open the second innings in place of Brook, who instead compiled his hundred from the No 3 position, the England wicketkeeper hit 50 from 44 balls to completely alter the course of the contest.
“There wasn’t anything behind it (opening), to be honest,” said Bairstow.
“It wasn’t something that was over-thought.
“It was a case of, ‘do you fancy it?’ and, ‘yeah, of course’. I just went out and tried to be positive.”
Bairstow added: “In that situation you’ve got a choice. You can either grind it out or play the ball on its merits.
“I’d like to think it wasn’t slogging or anything like that, and it was a case of if it was there (the ball) to just try and put it away.”
Whether Bairstow, Brook or AN Other opens in Yorkshire’s next game remains to be seen, with Bairstow available for the trip to face Surrey at The Oval on Friday before preparing for England’s Test summer with team-mate Joe Root.
Brook could, no doubt, bat anywhere in the top order, with Bairstow acknowledging the player’s versatility.
“Whether Harry bats at the top of the order or whether he goes down and bats at five, or whatever, I’m not sure,” he said.
“Personally I think he’s probably more suited to batting a little bit further down the order and giving himself a chance and giving himself an opportunity to come in potentially against the slightly older ball because that is how he is going to learn.
“Yes, there are high hopes for him, but you could also look at it the other way and say, ‘let’s keep his confidence as high as we can’ because, all of a sudden, if he comes in and gets a couple of good balls against experienced pros then – and it’s happened to me, it’s happened to Joe Root, it’s happened to everyone – you can feel your confidence going as a young player, and that’s not what we want to happen.
“Harry has got the potential to be a very good player.”
Brook could do worse than take a leaf out of Bairstow’s book with the wicketkeeper having become one of the world’s top players.
For now Bairstow is simply enjoying his short stint back at Yorkshire after a sapping winter at international level, which saw him away from home for lengthy periods.
“Some people said, ‘why did you need a break?’ (at the start of the English season), but speak to them about being away for 160 nights and 30 flights, and all the other pressures that come with playing international cricket, and I’m sure they would give you an answer that they don’t know anything about,” he said.
“It’s interesting when you come back and hear people saying that you should be straight in and you should be doing this, that and the other, but it was a gruelling trip, and no matter which way you look at it, to have a period of time off is something that refreshes you and makes you excited about coming back and playing.”