Ethan Brookes has loved being part of a young Warwickshire team which grew individually and as a group during the Royal London Cup campaign.
The Bears finished fifth in their group, having won four of their eight games, the same as all four teams that finished above them.
They were edged out of the qualification places because all the teams above them picked up points from washed out games (the Bears had no ‘no result’s, winning four and losing four). But it was a highly impressive effort from a squad with, at times, a dozen senior players unavailable.
Twenty-year-old Brookes played in all eight games and was influential in all departments, not least in two truly memorable wins. He scored 63 in a sixth-wicket partnership of 153 with Matt Lamb to set up the brilliant seven-run home win over Leicestershire. Then in the last group game, last Thursday he joined forces with Tim Bresnan at the crease to see the Bears over the line for a three-wicket win in a thriller against Somerset at Edgbaston.
Brookes was also a key member of the seam attack and took eight catches, some of them exceptional.
“I think all the lads have stepped up when they needed to,” he said. “Everyone contributed and I am really happy to have done my bit at times.
“It’s brilliant to contribute to a win, especially when things don’t go to plan straight away and you have to show you can stay in games when things are going against you. We have shown that we can do that and stay in games and then fight back and win them and that’s a nice feeling.
“There is pressure and I do feel it sometimes, everyone is human, but that’s professional sport. You have just got to suck it up at key moments and it helps a lot to have great people around you, like at the end of the Somerset game when having Bres out there at the other end relaxed me completely.
“It’s been brilliant to play at Edgbaston and hear the crowd getting behind you – that’s just what we need. And playing in front of 6,000 people at The Oval is something I never expected at the start of the year!”
Brookes has properly seized his early opportunity to impress during a sustained run of first-team cricket. Now he just wants more, alongside brother Henry for the Bears.
“It’s been fantastic,” he said. “Now I will just keep training as hard as I can and putting my name in the hat and, fingers crossed, I can get a few more games in the first team.
“Henry has had a tough year with injuries but it’s great that he has just started his rehab and is on the way back. Hopefully he will be back out on the park soon and we can play a lot of cricket together for the Bears.”