Did you see… Harry Brook’s first over?

Posted by
3 minute read

The Ashes has already delivered a great many remarkable moments, but few have been quite like Harry Brook coming on to bowl early on day two.

It wasn’t so much that Brook was getting a bowl – it was when.

It was inside the first hour and after two quick wickets to Stuart Broad, Australia were 39-2. Who did Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja expect to see come on to bowl at this point? Ollie Robinson, most likely, or Ben Stokes, or Moeen Ali.

Definitely not Harry Brook.

Brook is a marvellous bowler: pure, scintillating, part-time military-medium. He didn’t so much hit the pitch hard with his opening half-tracker as pat it very gently. That one was clocked at 67mph and by the end of the over he still hadn’t threatened the UK motorway speed limit.

“Who’s the filthiest bowler you ever got out to?” Michael Atherton asked Ricky Ponting, midway through the over – which should give you some sense how his bowling was perceived.

It was real club cricket level stuff. Jonny Bairstow somehow managed to capture both the nonsense and genuine threat of it by excitedly needling Smith with an, “Ooh, what’s coming next?”

What *was* coming next? No-one really knew. We were transfixed.

Tango and bash

A lot of guff is spoken about England’s current approach to Test cricket, but they do unarguably make games more interesting. They hope that other teams will follow their current example, but this was just another example of how that isn’t really necessary. It only takes one to tango, as the old saying doesn’t quite go.

When England began their innings, Pat Cummins had spread his field in a weird and interesting way. This intriguing tactic was not some proactive innovation on his part; it was just a reaction to the other team being weird and sloggy.

In any given Test match, one team being weird is enough. One team being weird forces the other team to do things they wouldn’t ordinarily do and if you’re following the game, those decisions provide food for thought.

Harry Brook’s over was the same. Here we got to see how two of Australia’s finest batters would counter Genuine Dob in the 15th over of an innings, which is not a thing we remember seeing them do before. Smith and Khawaja didn’t choose to face Genuine Dob. Ben Stokes forced them into that situation.

It also wasn’t the worst move in the world. We will always maintain that real, out-and-out medium pace can actually be quite threatening to Test cricketers, simply because it’s so alien. Top level batters just aren’t that well grooved against 67mph filth.

The wisdom of Stokes’ move was evinced by Ponting who momentarily lost all self-awareness. Like most people, Ponting’s knee-jerk response was something approaching scorn, but he then went on to describe how bowel-shudderingly disconcerting he’d find the scenario were he at the crease.

It’s hard not to think about how embarrasing it would be to get out to a 67mph long hop in this situation and that’s exactly the kind of fearful mindset that can undermine a batter.

Smith took a single off the final ball, which we’ll chalk up as a mark of his genius.

Goldenarms: The best part-time bowlers in the history of Test cricket

Get our darn email

Help crowdfund us


Mike Gatting wasn't receiving the King Cricket email when he dropped that ludicrously easy chance against India in 1993.


Why risk it when it's so easy to sign up?


  1. Watching Johnny Bairstow, and I don’t think I’ve seen anyone so disappointed by himself when he scores a boundary. He’s just powered one to the boundary, and he looks like he call his wife by his ex-girlfriend’s name.

    We know Virat Kohli is the angriest player, is Johnny the grouchiest?

      1. Jimmy is the grumpiest. He’s also generally pretty pleased with his own actions. Everyone else’s however…

  2. We were there. Reports to follow.

    I described Harry Brook’s bowling as elegant filth, in contrast with Dan Lawrence’s ugly filth.

    Daisy bathed herself in glory by pointing out that Harry Brook took a vital test wicket over the winter, which no-one quite believed until Mr Google confirmed that Kane Williamson was his victim.

    England all out as I type. Am I mistaken or was the target of 281 exactly the Edgbaston 2005 target? No-one has yet mentioned that on Sky. Remember where you heard it first.

  3. Some breaking news – Oman beat Ireland at the World Cup qualifiers which sadly almost certainly puts paid to Ireland making the cut.

    In some even less reported news, Brazil women have been utterly thrashing Argentina women in their WT20I series – back in the day, Argentina were a stalwart of ICC World Cup qualifying tournaments, but today the result is unsurprising given it’s professionals versus amateurs, a distinction which is even creeping into some of the lower regions of international cricket.

    But the best thing to come out of that series is that there is now an international umpire called Mr Maximo.


      1. Classic thread that, Ged. Some much missed names, who I hope still lurk occasionally.

        I do hope “Billy” (?) Maximo’s young umpiring career progresses, the commentary possibilities are marvellous even if nobody picks up on the obvious sponsorship value.

        Also umpiring this series was ANOTHER Mr Maximo! With the same birthday!


        I can only presume they are twin brothers which makes it even better. They seem to have been alternating umpire and reserve umpire duties with the very experienced West Indies umpire Jacqueline Williams standing in every match, presumably as part of some kind of training initiative.

        Which begs the question, what’s the maximum number of Maximos who can umpire a cricket match maximum? Quite common for the 4 versus 6 distinction to go to the TV umpire on televised matches but will the Maximo family run out of siblings before that’s possible?

  4. I can’t believe you lot aren’t talking about how Sweden Women got wiped out by Jersey Women the other day. Ged- hope to see you at Lords end of the month. I was the one boring you about rugby fives in the bowlers’ bar at Middx Leics a couple of years back. I think there was a statistician there as well. Cheers

    1. Hold on a tick, Jeffy. It wasn’t a Middx v Leics county match two or a few years ago – it was the rain-soaked first day of the I’ll-fated Saffer Test last year. That’s why the thought of it having been four years ago did my head in!

      Anyway, to answer your question, I hope to be hanging around at Lord’s Days Two and Three. Not available Day One & with guests Day Four.

      1. Ah good hope to bump into you. I think I was conflating separate convivial afternoons in the Bowlers’ bar. There was one occasion, which must have been this one; I remember Paul Nixon was in the bar with his gang:
        Lots of journalists were in as well because the Stokes captaincy had been announced at Lords’ earlier in the day. Then there was the Saffer test you correctly mention. Happy days!

    2. France Women did very well to win that tournament (T20 World Cup Euro Qual Div 2). It was a big shock that Germany, strong favourites for the title, couldn’t even manage the second qualification slot with Italy pipping them to it. Germany still had a chance in their final match – against France, who’d they had beaten six times out of six in previous meetings – but this time France were too strong. I watched that one live on ICC TV. It’s great they’re streaming these matches now but the commentary quite poor. And sadly we’re some way away from seeing the option of e.g. French-language commentary for the French team’s matches, even though that team’s base comes from native French speakers rather than ex-pats.

      Sweden getting totally twonked by Jersey was a shame, but is the kind of thing that can happen in a T20 chase. I thought overall Sweden did well for a team that relies on home-grown players (even several of the ex-pats who take part in Swedish women’s cricket actually learned the game via the Swedish system) and who don’t have a big domestic club scene. In contrast, Denmark Women – who in the 1990s qualified for two ODI World Cups with a best finish of 7th in the1993 Women’s CWC and were consistently one of the top sides in Europe – didn’t even send a team to participate. In fact they’ve not taken part in any ICC or European tournaments since the 2000s, though they did play Sweden for two WT20Is last year (losing both). Viewed in that context, Sweden Women’s development has been pretty impressive.

      Realistically Sweden and Turkey should probably have been in a Div 3 qualifier – Turkey were very clearly playing in a tournament a few steps above them, which must be discouraging and even raises player safety issues- along with some of the other active women’s teams like Austria and Romania. But I don’t think that would have spared Sweden their Jersey humiliation since Sweden would have had a good chance of winning at that level and making it into Div 2 by right. And the Jersey result wasn’t representative of their tournament. They did very well to reach 139/6 against Germany’s strong bowling attack, Signe Lundell top-scoring with 49, even though they ultimately lost by 7 wickets.


  5. Today we get to see Bazweather. England’s tactical use of the weather is well documented, but in times gone by it was generally drizzle-stops-play. The modern English way is monsoon-stops-play, and possibly massive-lightning-storm-stops-play.

    It will be interesting to see if sound-and-fury is more effective than gently flushing away your soul as Jonathan Agnew says he thinks it is brightening up a little to the east.

Comments are closed.