Sports

Harry Brook keeps pressure on Jonny Bairstow as George Hill grinds out hundred

Yorkshire 324 for 5 (Hill 131, Brook 76) vs Hampshire

Harry Brook continued his extraordinary LV= Insurance County Championship season with his ninth score over 50 as Yorkshire piled on the runs on a flat Ageas Bowl pitch.

Brook, who was released from England’s Test squad to play in this match, has played 10 red-ball innings in 2022 with a lowest score of 41 and three centuries.

Against Hampshire, he showed his class with 76 but it was George Hill who spent the majority of the day grinding out a 220-ball century, the second of his career, before eventually departing for 131. Yorkshire reached the close on 324 for 5.

Last season, Sussex’s Tom Haines and Matt Critchley, then of Derbyshire, were the players with the most 50-plus scores, both with nine. Brook – who scored seven in 2021 – has already reached Haines and Critchley’s tally in half the number of matches.

But it was Hill that caught the eye early on after his skipper Steven Patterson had chosen to bat first. His straight drives were a particular highlight in a slow-going morning session: he scuffed one past Kyle Abbott before opening the face of the bat the following ball, and he would later gloriously drive Keith Barker through mid-off as well.

The straight drives were joined by a number of pull shots through midwicket, including to bring up his half-century in 131 deliveries.

The 21-year-old lost Adam Lyth driving the accurate Ian Holland to third slip in the morning after a 51-run opening partnership and Will Fraine – a victim to Hill’s driving, run out while backing up at the non-striker’s end.

Brook joined Hill, something that would have happened a number of times during their schooling at Sedbergh in Cumbria. The pair were national schools champions together in 2017.

Hill had the choice of pretty much any professional sport, having also excelled at hockey, been ranked in England’s top-four tennis players in his age group and won another national cup in Sedbergh’s rugby team.

Hockey, tennis and rugby’s loss was certainly Yorkshire’s gain as he showed patience to see off the new ball – which was Mohammad Abbas-less. As Sedbergh director of cricket Martin Speight told the Yorkshire website recently: “He’s very understated, and I don’t think he realises it yet, but a lot of people have said to me how calm he looks when he gets going. Once he’s in, he looks very calm and unflustered.”

Those words rang true, especially once Brook had joined him as the pair reached a hundred stand in 154 balls, Hill accelerating to contribute 41 of them in good time. Two sixes back over Liam Dawson’s head proved his quality against spin bowling, matched by his pace mastery on show throughout.

At the other end, Brook batted like a man who knows he is at the top of his game. His high back-lift, small backward-step trigger and his punchy flourishes were all lined up and timed together perfectly. He struck 11 boundaries in all – 10 fours and a six – with his wagon wheel fairly equal in all areas.

He fell falling into James Vince’s leg-slip trap, but that failed to halt Hill from reaching his three figures with a guided cut shot to the boundary.

The second new ball ended his 257-ball vigil as Abbott sneaked one through the gate to clip the bail between middle and off stump. Harry Duke had his off stump kissed by Holland as the shadows lengthened with the day’s blue skies only interrupted by the rare cloud.


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