Brooks revels in Headingley hero status
Yorkshire 138 for 3 (Lyth 62) lead Somerset 110 (Brooks 5-35) by 28 runs
Given that he was not a professional cricketer before he turned 25, Jack Brooks has already achieved more in his career than he probably ever imagined. Whether he can rise even higher, and add an England cap to his County Championship medals - it surely will be plural - remains to be seen. Either way, his place in Yorkshire folklore is assured.
At Headingley in particular, they love him. The affection is mutual. He bowls in an unnecessary headband, celebrates a wicket as if it were a winning goal and gives the ball a kiss when he takes a five-for. Yorkshire folk are not usually impressed by showiness but Brooks gets away with it. In fact, the members have come to expect it.
Then again, he rarely disappoints on this ground. His five on the opening day here as Somerset crumbled rather feebly to 110 all out in 35 miserable overs took Brooks to 90 wickets from 20 matches at Headingley, at an average of 18.56.
Conditions were ideal for him on this occasion and after just five overs he had 3 for 8. Tom Abell and Tom Cooper both edged into the slips, then Jim Allenby misread the inswing so badly he was bowled shouldering arms. Brooks looked as happy as he had when he was carving through Middlesex's top order here in June. This was a dividend for Jason Gillespie's man-management skills, you suspected.
Brooks has missed the last two Championship matches and last week's Royal London Cup quarter-final win over Essex, the legacy of a back injury that forced him to sit out the clash with Durham at the Scarborough Festival, after which he was made to wait to regain his place. Even before then, although he is Yorkshire's leading wicket-taker, he had not been at his most effective.
Yet when Gillespie announced his squad he made it clear that Brooks would have played even if Liam Plunkett had been overlooked by England because, at Headingley, Brooks is his man. Empowered by his coach's confidence and conviction, he was devastating.
That is not to say he was alone in that. Ryan Sidebottom, 38 next January, yet still full of purpose and still excited by what all the years of experience enable him to do with the ball, was just as dangerous, seeing off Marcus Trescothick, who has seen more of him than anyone, for 5 and James Hildreth, Somerset's best batsman by a mile this year, for 3, the two deliveries as good as any bowled all day.
Gillespie reckons Brooks should be interesting the England selectors and Mick Newell, primarily here to assess Adam Lyth on his post-Ashes return to four-day county cricket, will have left with a favourable impression at least. The barrier Brooks faces, though, is that having come to the professional game so late, he is now 31. Looking ahead, England may feel there are others who warrant greater consideration.
Somerset, only 13 points ahead of the bottom two places at the start, albeit with a game in hand of Sussex and Worcestershire below them, were poor, stumbling to 36 for 6 at one stage. One more win will probably keep them up but they batted as if they do not expect it will come here.
Luke Ronchi, the New Zealand wicketkeeper-batsman who played Twenty20 for them earlier in the year, battled as he would be expected to on his red-ball debut for the county, and Lewis Gregory went after Steve Patterson with a degree of success. Otherwise, Yorkshire found no obstacles that could not be knocked over with ease.
Then came the bonus, from a Yorkshire perspective, of seeing Lyth among the runs again. Lyth returned along with Jonny Bairstow to join Gary Ballance in restoring three England players to Gillespie's first-choice line-up. Inevitably there had to be casualties.
With Aaron Finch recalled in place of Glenn Maxwell, who is playing against England, Andy Hodd and Jack Leaning had to stand down, a taste of harsh reality in the case of the latter, in some eyes Yorkshire's player of the season, certainly among the batsmen.
Lyth, with much to prove after his wretched run against Australia, was required to graft for runs on a difficult pitch and to reach 62 was a good effort in the context of what had gone before. He will feel he could have done better. Dropped on 7 down the leg side by Ronchi, he was ultimately caught at gully, getting a thick edge to an expansive drive off Allenby. It was a slightly disappointing end, yet he did not look like a batsman whose confidence is shot, which is encouraging.
The loss of Andrew Gale, bowled by Jack Leach in the left-arm spinner's first over, meant some late regrouping with Patterson obliged to don his nightwatchman's pads, but Ballance looked well set on 49 and with Finch, Bairstow and Tim Bresnan still to come, Yorkshire will expect to expand their overnight lead into something much more substantial.