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NASSER HUSSAIN: Harry Brook can relax knowing he’s here for the long haul with England’s test debut approaching

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NASSER HUSSAIN: Harry Brook can relax knowing he’s here for the long haul… Jonny Bairstow’s accident allowed Yorkshireman to start his test career in the perfect position

  • Jonny Bairstow’s injury has opened up a spot in England for Harry Brook
  • England’s selection process has improved exponentially in recent decades
  • Brook could secure his place in England’s Pakistan tour with a great performance

Harry Brook will definitely fit into this England squad to end the international summer with a series win over South Africa.

Brook has been unlucky during his prolific 2022 season as there have been people in that middle order scoring runs. He had to wait his turn.

But an injury to Jonny Bairstow means he enters this set-up in just the right batting position to start a test career.

Harry Brook has been named in England’s squad for the final test against South Africa

At the start of the current streak against South Africa there was talk of bringing him in to open, with Zak Crawley in the saloon of the last chance, but I wouldn’t have argued for that.

I think the best place for him to start is at five o’clock, the spot from which he has put together a string of 967 County Championship runs in just eight games.

The attacking way he plays matches the style in which the regime of Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum wants their players to play their cricket.

If I had one piece of advice for him it would be to tell him things aren’t like the bad old England squad when I played.

Jonny Bairstow's bizarre injury means Brook could also play against Pakistan in the English test series in December

Jonny Bairstow’s bizarre injury means Brook could also play against Pakistan in the English test series in December

This institution in England believes in long-term selection and not just going around in circles, which couldn’t be more in contrast to my time.

It was at the Oval that I got my first test call in 1989. I was named in the squad but didn’t make the XI as John Stephenson was chosen before me.

As I left the game and drove back to Wantage Road to meet my Essex teammates for a game against Northamptonshire, my captain Keith Fletcher told me it was actually a blessing in disguise.

One-Test miracles end at the Oval, he said. Stephenson ended that way, as did a few others, and that was a reflection of the short-termism that existed in the 1980s and 1990s.

Today things are very different. In fact, I’d like to tell Brook that he’s not only on the team this week, but also on the plane to Pakistan for the December test series.

If he’s good enough for this game, he’s good enough for the next one in Rawalpindi, so I’d tell him to play like he does for Yorkshire.

He’s not playing for his place, so let him relax and go out and win a test match for England.

 

The 23-year-old showed his potential for England Lions against the Proteas last month

The 23-year-old demonstrated his potential for England Lions against the Proteas last month

And if he gets points in a match of this magnitude, against this attack in South Africa – after winning a hundred of their backup bowlers in England Lions’ warm-up win over the tourists last month – will tell you that he is a seriously good player.

To be honest, I just hope he’s still at odds. As a batter, you want to be picked when you’re at the top of your game and he probably would have preferred his debut to have been a month ago when the runs really flowed.

Instead, he was fairly dormant as the reserve top-six option in the first two tests.

Because of this, he was unable to maintain his red ball hitting rhythm.

But even if he has had to bide his time, Brook will know that with Bairstow out of the Pakistan tour – due to the nature of his leg injury – he will be on the team for a while. That should allow him to express himself the way others have had in what has been a really exciting revival by England in Test cricket.

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