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News

Harry Brook on three-year deal: 'I was going to sign as soon as England called'

Batter relishing the ride as relentless touring lifestyle continues at pace

Cameron Ponsonby
05-Dec-2023
Harry Brook notched a half-century in England's defeat in the first ODI  •  Getty Images

Harry Brook notched a half-century in England's defeat in the first ODI  •  Getty Images

Harry Brook says that he agreed his three-year deal with England "as soon as they called", with there being no temptation to keep his franchise options open with a shorter deal.
Brook is one of just three England players, along with Mark Wood and Joe Root, who signed three-year central contracts with the ECB. Unlike Root and Wood, who are both in their 30s and would have appreciated the certainty that came with the length of the deal, Brook is 24 and highly sought after on the franchise circuit, becoming an IPL millionaire last year when he was picked up by Sunrisers Hyderabad for INR 13.25 crore.
Nevertheless, despite the riches on offer around the world, Brook said there wasn't even a thought of a negotiation with England when Rob Key called him.
"Straight away as soon as England called I was going to sign the contract," Brook said, one day out from the second ODI against the West Indies. "I've wanted to play for England all my life."
Brook was one of six players who were offered three-year contracts, with himself, Wood and Root agreeing to the deal, while Jofra Archer and Jos Buttler opted for two years and Test captain Ben Stokes gambled on a one-year deal on the basis that the value of central contracts may increase when new terms are agreed next year.
As arguably the most talented batter of his generation, Brook's commitment to England is a boon to the national side as they are able to control the workload of one of their most prized assets, who himself admitted to having felt that he needed a break following a difficult World Cup campaign.
Since his Test debut in September 2022, no one has played as many matches for England as Brook's 45. And it isn't until you get to Chris Woakes at No.7 in that list with 32 matches that you find another player who has played Test cricket. With such a high workload, there could have been consideration to rest Brook for the ODIs and have him join up with the squad for the T20Is.
"Obviously England made that decision but I'm happy to be out here to be honest," Brook said of the potential to have had an extended rest. "It's a different lifestyle. I've been waking up at six o'clock every morning and jumping in the sea so it's been an enjoyable tour so far."
For a cricket nuffy like Brook, the West Indies tour also represents an opportunity to work on a format of the game he has had next to no experience in. Following the World Cup, he returned to his school coach for a few work-up sessions, but still the challenge of finding the tempo of one-day cricket has proved challenging. A fact that made his 71 in the first ODI all the more satisfying.
"I liked the way I went about my innings," Brook said reflecting on his run-a-ball innings at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium. "I've struggled a little bit in this format at the start of my career. I haven't quite found the tempo of how I wanted to play.
"Until the summer I hadn't played anything. So yeah, I was just trying to figure out, find my feet in the format really and try to find a tempo with the way I wanted to bat. England have been renowned for being an aggressive side but there's always so much time. The other day was a perfect example of that. It was about nine overs from the end that I got out and I felt like I was sat up on the balcony watching for about three hours."
Despite a relentless workload, Brook has put his name into the auction for the IPL which, coming off the back of England's five-match Test tour there in January, will mean he'll have spent the best part of six months from the start of October to the end of May in India.
"In India you can end up sitting in your hotel room with not much stuff to do," Brook said of the cricket-mad nation where the celebrity effect takes things up a notch and can make social media a particularly difficult place. "I've been off social media for a while now. So anything I stumble across, I delete it from the phone...I think that's helped my game, helped my mental health and everything, to be off social media and seeing all the negativity that brings."
It marks a change for Brook, who after a run of low scores in IPL 2023 said in a post-match interview following his century against Kolkata Knight Riders that he was "glad he could shut them [his critics] up to be honest."
"I was an idiot and I said a stupid thing in an interview which I regret a little bit," Brook laughed when recalling the incident, adding that it wasn't this incident alone that led him to quitting social media. "I'd find myself scrolling Instagram or whatever, and you just come across stuff you just don't want to see, so I thought it was the right idea to get rid of it. I've obviously still got Instagram and Twitter but thankfully I've got someone running it for me."

Cameron Ponsonby is a freelance cricket writer in London. @cameronponsonby