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‘We fancy our chances’: Harry Brook backs England to retain T20 World Cup
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‘We fancy our chances’: Harry Brook backs England to retain T20 World Cup

After two World Cup campaigns with wildly different outcomes and a personally challenging start to this year, a leaner, more focused Harry Brook heads into this latest push for global glory confident that England have the power to bring home the trophy.

Doing so would certainly change the narrative from late last year in India, where Jos Buttler’s team were barely also-rans in their 50-over title defence. Brook, whose first winter with England in 2022-23 returned the T20 World Cup, has a diagnosis for that no-show and, with it, clarity as to how things must differ over the next four weeks.

“We fancy our chances,” Brook said, before England tuned up for their Group B opener with Scotland on Tuesday at the Three Ws Oval, north of Bridgetown. “We’ve got a very good side; good depth around T20 cricket. We’re confident we can bring it home again.”

Asked what needed to change from the 50-over World Cup, the batter replied: “[We need to] be a bit more relaxed; probably stay in the moment a little bit more, as a group and personally. We weren’t in a great space at the time. The way we started wasn’t great, either. It wasn’t the best competition to be part of.”

The weather is volatile in ­Barbados – this is very much the end of tourist season – but, from the ­outside, England’s outlook appears far brighter. If India was a case of ­losing touch with the rhythms of 50‑over cricket, Brook insists the same cannot be said about Twenty20 given its status as the dominant white‑ball format these days.

On a personal level, this season – with an overseas tour in June – represents a comeback for Brook, who missed the Test tour of India, which ended in March, owing to the death of his grandmother Pauline, a huge supporter of his cricket while he was growing up. At one stage the last three fixtures of that 4-1 defeat were targets, but events dictated otherwise.

“Trying to spend as much time as I could with my grandma at that time was the right call and I don’t regret it for a minute,” he said. “I had a couple of conversations with [Ben Stokes, the Test captain] and he basically said: ‘Whatever happens, family is the most important thing and you’d regret going back to play cricket if something happened.’”

Harry Brook in action during last year’s 50-over World Cup.View image in fullscreen

Cricket-wise, Brook spent the first significant break of his England career drilling down on his fitness and, while hardly out of shape before, is looking remarkably svelte. Some players bulk up for extra power but Brook, with a natural ability to clear the rope through timing, has gone the other way to augment other facets of his game.

“Obviously it wasn’t in great circumstances but I just tried to train as hard as possible; trying to lose a bit of weight and trying to get a bit leaner,” he said. “Batting in the middle order, running twos are going to be quite a big thing for my game. And in the field as well. I’ve been trying to get quicker at running over the last 12 to 18 months.”

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Brook is the last man in an all right-handed top five, a potential achilles heel given the Caribbean cross-winds. That said, he possesses a 360-degree game, able to hit inside out – such as that slapped six over extra cover to seal the recent 2-0 series win over Pakistan – and, like others, is well drilled in the reverse sweep. Kieron Pollard, the Trinidadian hired as a consultant coach, is being mined for information.

Brook, though inked in for an immediate Test return given his scorching start to life in the longer format, has shown only flashes of his promise against the white-ball and averaged 11 in the T20 World Cup two years ago. Not that England have doubts here, long term, demonstrated by the three-year central contract he signed last autumn.

He said: “International cricket is my priority and I want to play all three formats for as long as I can. That contract does give a little bit of confidence and solidification. I feel like I can be around the three squads for the next three years and there’s a lot to do.”

Tuesday’s match begins at 10.30am local time (3.30pm BST) – one of 25 games with a morning start in this tournament to maximise the television audience in India – and a date with Scotland is a first chance for England to show the clouds of last winter have made way for sunshine.

Source: theguardian.com