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ESPNcricinfo Awards 2022 Debutant of the year: Harry Brook leaps out of the blocks

England have an exciting new all-format batter we can look forward to watching for years

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Brook had long been marked out as a future England player but his form in Australia at the start of 2022 - 44 runs in seven innings in the BBL - hardly suggested an international debut was imminent.
By the end of the year things looked a little different. He was a T20 World Cup winner, locked on in England's Test middle order after a stunning breakthrough series in Pakistan, a PSL winner, and an IPL millionaire. Not since Joe Root had a batter slotted so seamlessly into an England team - and his 80 off 75 against South Africa in his second ODI in early 2023 implied 50-over success would not have to wait long.
Brook's thirst for self-improvement has been apparent since he was a cricket scholar at Sedbergh School in north-west England. As a teenager he would wake up at 6am and implore Martin Speight, the school's director of cricket, to give him throwdowns before breakfast.
He struggled when thrown into the Yorkshire team soon after leaving school, but by 2022 it was clear that county cricket was too easy for him. He made 967 Championship runs at 107.44, and only a middle-order logjam delayed his Test debut until the final match of the summer.
He made 12 in his only innings against South Africa, but thrashed three hundreds in his next five, all of them in Pakistan. He managed 240 runs off 181 balls across the Rawalpindi Test, giving England enough time to force a final-session win, and responded to a rash dismissal in the second Test by adding 108 and 111 in his last two hits of the series.
In March, Brook made his maiden T20 century during Lahore Qalandars' PSL triumph; in September he secured his spot in England's World Cup XI with a dominant run from No. 5. He was less fluent in Australia, but was part of an important 39-run partnership with Ben Stokes in the final.
The achievements and records have not eclipsed his style. Brook's height and poise evoke Kevin Pietersen. His classical technique enables him to thrive against high pace and mystery spin. Against the white ball, Brook's ability to play the scoop means bowlers often feel as though they have one fewer fielder at their disposal: teams invariably leave fine leg back, bringing another man into the ring.

Key moment

In England's second Test in Pakistan, Brook was caught at mid-off playing what he described as "a shocking shot" off Abrar Ahmed, the debutant legspinner. He resolved it would be his last such error of the tour, exchanging texts with Speight. "You'll learn, because it's you," Speight said. "Stay strong." He did. In the second innings, Brook "went out there and tried to play the ball on its merit" and made the only hundred of the Test; in Karachi, he brought up his third of the tour, playing at a similar tempo.

The numbers

92.13 Brook's strike rate across his first four Tests. His 480 runs have come off 521 balls.
238 His run tally in Pakistan in the T20Is in September-October, the most by an Englishman in a bilateral T20I series.
132,500,000 Cost in Indian rupees (approximately US$1.6 million) that Sunrisers Hyderabad paid for Brook's services at December's IPL auction

What they said

"He's one of those rare players that you look across all formats and you can just see him being successful everywhere. It's a massive shout - Virat Kohli is one of those guys - where his technique is just so simple and works everywhere."
- Ben Stokes
"He reminds me of [AB] de Villiers, who would pick the field and say, 'This is what they're going to bowl, so I'm going to hit it here.' He has that. He almost knows what you're going to bowl before you bowl it."
- Mark Wood

The closest contenders

Arshdeep Singh
Arshdeep broke into the India set-up as a death bowler after impressing for Punjab Kings in the IPL, but he demonstrated his versatility through his first year as an India player. He regularly struck with the new ball too - memorably at the MCG, removing Pakistan's openers Babar Azam and Mohammad Rizwan in his first two overs in the teams' World Cup game.
Michael Bracewell
New Zealand plucked him out of domestic cricket at the age of 31 and he looked a bizarre selection in his first two Tests, leaking 5.97 an over against England. But he soon showed his prowess with and against the white ball, scoring a remarkable century to clinch a one-wicket win in Ireland and regularly chipping in with the ball through New Zealand's bilateral series.

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98