Henry Brookes admits he has "enjoyed stepping up" to the role of senior seamer in Warwickshire's squad this year - a little ahead of schedule in a season which included his 20th birthday.
After making a big first impression in county cricket in 2018, Brookes approached 2019 aiming to establish himself in the senior squad and hopefully play a fair bit of first-team cricket.
When the seam department decimated by injuries, however, he became a linchpin of the team across the formats. Not since Gladstone Small at the turn of the 1970s and 1980s has a seamer of such relative youth carried such a big responsibility for the Bears.
As a seamer, learning how to manage your body comes with experience and we’ve got a great medical team so with them I have put together a good plan which will improve my fitness and strength in the winter.cite=”Henry Brookes
Brookes responded strongly with 315.3 selfless overs and 32 wickets in the championship, as well as nearly 300 runs which included some important, match-affecting contributions. Also, encouragingly, after the back injury that sidelined him for the second half of 2018, his body withstood the considerable rigours of 26 games in all formats.
“If you had asked me at the start of the season if I would have played that much cricket, I’d have said no, but I was really pleased with the way my body coped,” he said. “I only had a couple of minor injuries, meaning I missed just six games, so am really pleased to have played the majority of the season.
“With all the injuries we had I had to step up and become one of the main seamers in the squad. It was crazy – at one point we had no fit contracted bowlers on the staff which was an unbelievable stat.
“But Olly Hannon-Dalby did a great job leading the attack and I enjoyed stepping up and taking a big role. Division One championship is the best cricket in the country and you are playing against the best players and I enjoy that challenge of being up against the best. Hopefully I have done myself justice and can take that into next year and carry it on.”
Next season, when the squad will surely be less hammered by injuries, the Bears will look to challenge hard for trophies, reckons Brookes.
“It never helps any side when you have that many injuries but the players who came in were great and it really showed the spirit in the squad,” he said. “We showed some real fight in some very tough games and that kept us in Division One.
“Now I am going to work hard during the winter and hopefully have a big part to play next season. As a seamer, learning how to manage your body comes with experience and we’ve got a great medical team so with them I have put together a good plan which will improve my fitness and strength in the winter. If I can get also some match time in somewhere it will be perfect preparation for next season.”