Ethan Brookes is determined to build on a 2021 season that gave him opportunities to impress.

The 20-year-old made his Bears debut in 2019, during a County Championship match against Essex at Edgbaston, and a second first-class appearance followed in 2020 at Glamorgan in the Bob Willis Trophy.

But it was during last year’s One Day Cup campaign where we saw the promising signs from the young all-rounder. Asked to take the ball against building partnerships, whilst batting in the lower mid-order, Brookes was thrust into the centre of the action.

“I’ve taken a lot of positives from the summer,” Brookes said. ‘There were a few highs and a few lows, but generally, it was pleasing. Playing alongside some of the regular first-team players when I had my chance was great and I learnt a lot from them. I just tried to have as many cricket conversations with as many people as possible.

“We didn’t have the best of the starts – probably from the lack of experience – but we all seemed to grow in our roles. I think there’s so much confidence taken from that competition and players knew they could perform in that environment. To play at the Oval, here – my home ground – that was a really special feeling.

“It’s nice to have young lads to lean on. I’ve got my mates Dan (Mousley), Gaz (George Garrett), Rob (Yates), Henry (Brookes) and Manny (Manraj Johal) and we’ve got a nice circle where we can ask each other questions, practice and learn from each other and it’s a nice feeling in the changing room.”

Warwickshire grew in the competition, defeating Derbyshire, Leicestershire and Northants before closing with a thrilling three-wicket victory over Somerset. A win will always bring confidence to any side, but it was the dramatic match against the Foxes that stands out.

“The match here against Leicestershire with Matt Lamb where we were in a bit of strife,” said Brookes who fired 63 in a 153-run partnership. “We were struggling a bit and we tried to take it as deep as possible. We had a lot of fun and I was quite nervous at the start, but Lamby calmed me down and it seemed to get going. I’ll remember that innings for a long time.”

The Bears reached 303 for six, a pleasing total from 121 for five, but Paul Nixon’s side looked on course for victory at 217 for three with 15 overs remaining.

Another partnership and it was done. Enter Captain Will Rhodes…

“Watching Will bowl ten overs on the bounce to win us the game was great to see. Watching him take that ball with confidence, knowing he can back his skills, it gives everyone else confidence.”

It’s that confidence that Solihull-born Brookes will be looking to sustain. Opportunities will present themselves in 2022 and the academy product is using the winter to take advantage.

“At the moment it’s trying to keep things simple,” concluded the former Solihull School pupil. “It’s just trying to keep things very simple, going back to basics with the technique for my batting and bowling. It’s then about building my skills from that technical foundation and hopefully I can play as many games as possible or push to get into that first team. That comes with performances and the second team.

“It’s natural for you to have some doubts at times, especially when your performances aren’t as good as you want them to be. When you have performances like Leicestershire it gives you confidence. The team are in a great place after winning the Championship and everyone is still on a high. The boys are training really hard so hopefully, we’ll regain that title.”

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