The “posh southerner” is preparing for his final outing as an adopted northerner on his home ground this week, and Jack Brooks admits he has loved bowling in front of the Yorkshire faithful.
Brooks faces Hampshire at Emerald Headingley in the penultimate Specsavers County Championship match of the season, starting on Tuesday, with one main aim – to finally banish the fear of relegation.
Yorkshire need a maximum of 18 points from their final two games to secure Division One cricket for 2019.
Brooks, 34, is charging over the finishing line in terms of his Yorkshire career, having taken 16 wickets in his last three matches, with nine of them coming in last week’s must win Roses clash.
But he is determined to stay focused on team goals rather than anything personal.
“Almost there,” he said of the relegation fight. “But there’s still a bit of work to do.
“The boys have worked incredibly hard over the last few weeks to get some results, and we’re in good form now, so we’re confident we can get the job done.
“My main objective for the rest of the season is to make sure Yorkshire are in Division One, and we’re getting there.”
Brooks’ first-class record at Headingley is exceptional. In 33 games, he has taken 146 wickets at an average of 22.10.
He has better averages at Chelmsford, the Ageas Bowl, Chesterfield, Worcester and Derby, but he has only taken 69 first-class wickets at those venues combined.
“I’ve always enjoyed bowling here and have always felt threatening,” he said.
“I know when Dizzy was in charge, and with Galey now, they always like to pick me for these games. They always want to make sure I’m playing at Headingley.
“I feel like my game’s suited to bowling here, bowling that little bit fuller. You get your rewards if you put it in the right areas for long enough.
“It’s been great for me for the last six years, improving as a cricketer and playing in front of decent crowds.
“I seem to get on well with the supporters.
“We seem to respond to each other’s energy, and it’s been really good fun.
“But I want to finish the season on a high for the team as much as anything personal. There’s a lot on the line.”
Despite the stakes being high for Yorkshire, there will no doubt be time to appreciate Brooks’ contribution to the county he joined ahead of 2013.
In the 2014 and 2015 Championship-winning seasons, he took 133 wickets.
“The emotion, I think, is going a bit, although I won’t know that for sure until I come off the pitch for the final time,” he said of his decision to leave.
And in typical Brooks fashion, he added: “I reckon I’m the most well spoken Yorkshireman around. I’m still called a posh southerner up here – it’s brilliant. I’m just a common old country idiot when I’m down south!
“I’m quite happy to be an adopted northerner because I’ve adopted a few phrases and how I say certain words.
“It’s been good fun.
“The sense of humour of the Yorkshireman is something I’ve always got on well with. I’m quite dry and sarcastic myself anyway, so we’re well suited.”
Hampshire have won their last two games against Worcestershire and Somerset to pull clear of relegation danger.
Ben Coad, after three matches out with a side injury, took a second-innings five-for in last week’s Specsavers Division One Roses win over Lancashire at Emerald Headingley. Coad, who took his 40th County Championship wicket in 2018, admitted to ‘feeling his side injury’ early in the match, but felt as though he was through the worst of it and is once again included in the squad.
England limited overs all-rounder David Willey will miss the final two weeks of the season as he recovers from the back injury he suffered in the build-up to the recent draw against Nottinghamshire at Trent Bridge.
Promising left-arm spinner James Logan, 20, the Academy’s all-time leading wicket-taker, also features in a senior squad for the second successive fixture but is yet to make his First XI debut.
14-MAN SQUAD TO FACE HAMPSHIRE CCC
Steven Patterson ©
Jonny Tattersall (WK)
Last time at Emerald Headingley
April 7, 8, 9: Yorkshire 273 (GS Ballance 120) & 187 (AJ Hodd 54*, KJ Abbott 7-41); Hampshire 141 (BO Coad 6-37) & 321-6 (JHK Adams 72). Hampshire won by four wickets.
Last year Hampshire won again. In the first innings Yorkshire scored 273 and Hampshire only 141 to be 132 behind.
Yorkshire’s batting was sustained by a patient and competent century from Gary Ballance in his first match as the appointed captain. Then Ben Coad took the first five Hampshire wickets in only his second first-class match. But Kyle Abbott turned the tables with a fine display of fast bowling and at one stage he had taken seven wickets in 14 overs.
Still Yorkshire should have won as Hampshire had to make 320 to win batting last. All the batsmen except Michael Carberry contributed yet at 262 for six and still 58 runs adrift Yorkshire could still have won. At this juncture Lewis McManus, their young wicket keeper joined Gareth Berg and they hit the runs required. It was the first match of the season and Yorkshire suffered an unexpected setback and Hampshire gained another victory at Headingley.