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Stokes: 'Phenomenal' Brook can enjoy all-format success like Kohli

"He's one of those rare players that you look across all formats and you can just see him being successful everywhere"

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
12-Dec-2022
Ben Stokes was full of praise for Harry Brook, Pakistan vs England, 2nd Test, Multan, 4th day, December 12, 2022

Ben Stokes was full of praise for Harry Brook  •  Matthew Lewis/Getty Images

Harry Brook's abundant talent and simple technique mean he could be on track to replicate the worldwide, all-format success enjoyed by Virat Kohli. That is the "massive shout" that Ben Stokes, England's Test captain, made after Brook's second-innings hundred set up a 26-run win over Pakistan to seal the series with a game to spare in Multan.
Brook is only 23 but has been discussed as one of England's leading young batters for a number of years and made his Test debut at the end of the English summer after Jonny Bairstow's ankle injury ruled him out of the third Test against South Africa at The Oval, having been the spare batter for the first six matches of the season.
He made 12 in his only innings on debut but blitzed his way to scores of 153 and 87 in the first Test of the series in Rawalpindi, threatening Gilbert Jessop's 120-year record for the fastest England hundred in both innings. And after being dismissed cheaply playing what he described as "a shocking shot" in the first innings in Multan, Brook responded with a well-paced 109 in the second - the only century of the match - to pick up the Player-of-the-Match award.
Brook has also played 20 T20Is, finishing September's tour of Pakistan as England's leading run-scorer before a quiet run of form in the T20 World Cup triumph. Currently uncapped in ODIs, he will also come into contention to bat in the middle order for the 50-over side ahead of their title defence in India next October.
"He's a player whose technique is suited to all three formats, he wants to always look to be putting pressure back onto the opposition, and he's won another game for England"
Ben Stokes on Harry Brook
"After the summer he had last year, getting all the big-ups before he made his debut at the back end of the summer, to come here and put in that kind of performance again was just phenomenal," Stokes told Sky Sports.
"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, but Virat Kohli is one of those guys where his technique is just so simple and works everywhere. The pressure that he puts back onto opposition is exactly what we're about."
Stokes added in his post-match press conference that Brook's form was "not a surprise" to him. "The expectation on his shoulders coming into this team, because of how good he's been for Yorkshire, was obviously huge," he said. "But I think that just shows that kind of stuff doesn't really affect him.
"He's a player whose technique is suited to all three formats, he wants to always look to be putting pressure back onto the opposition, and he's won another game for England. [He made a] huge contribution last week, and the hundred he scored here was obviously massive for us in getting that big lead.
"He's a pretty simple lad to captain: he just gets about his business, loves his batting, wants to constantly improve, constantly work on it. He's a pretty easy bloke to have in your dressing room."
Brook was caught at mid-off for nine in the first innings, looking to hit debutant spinner Abrar Ahmed back over his head for six, but tempered his attacking instincts in the early stages of England's second innings. After facing 41 balls, he had only scored 13 runs, but he gradually went through the gears to bring up a 137-ball century on the third morning.
"I was pretty disappointed with my first-innings dismissal," Brook told the BBC's Test Match Special. "It was a shocking shot, to be quite honest. I wanted to learn from that. I went out there and tried to play the ball on its merit as much as possible. Obviously, I defended a few more balls than I have done in the last couple of weeks.
"I felt good out there: long may it continue. I don't like to look too far ahead. I like to stay in the moment and just play in the next game. All I'm focused on now is enjoying this win and then concentrating on next week."
His form since coming into the side means that England will face a middle-order logjam when Bairstow returns to fitness, which could come in time for their two-match series in New Zealand in February. With Ben Foakes left out of the second Test for Ollie Pope, who took the keeping gloves, it could be that Bairstow keeps wicket on his return after a significant period as a specialist batter.
"We're very, very lucky with the way in which we can replace Jonny, to have Harry coming in, because those two, batting No. 5, they both go about it in exactly the same way," Stokes said. "They bring so much to the team and obviously Harry playing the way he has done at the moment with Jonny not being in the team, unfortunately, it's the best thing you want.
"You want competition for places, you want a strong squad to be able to pick from, and you want those headaches when it comes to the final XI every week, rather than saying 'I'm not sure who we're going to pick, let's pick a name out of the hat.' We're definitely not in that situation, and we feel like we've got all bases covered at the moment."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98