You will have heard how good Harry Brook is. England’s bowlers have been talking about it all tour, “one of the most talented people I’ve come across” reckoned Luke Wood, “a really special player” said Moeen Ali. And if you watched England beat Pakistan by 63 runs on Friday night, you’ll have seen it too. Brook made 81 off 35 balls, but it wasn’t the speed with which he scored that was impressive so much as the style with which he did it. It was one the most artful innings ever played for England in a T20. Just don’t ask him to explain it. “I watch the ball and hit it, simple as that.”
Brook and Ben Duckett, who has batted so well himself in these last two matches, put on 141. That left England with 221, the highest total ever made in an international in Pakistan, and 13 runs more than anything the home team have ever chased.
The biggest difference between this game, though, and the one England lost by 10 wickets on Thursday, was in their bowling. Mark Wood, who has been slowly working his way back to full fitness, showed that he had finally arrived at it by bowling one of the quickest spells in history, which peaked at 97.5mph on the speed gun.
Wood, back in an England team for the first time since the Test tour of the West Indies last March, replaced another Wood, Luke, and Reece Topley replaced David Willey. Between them, they managed to do in two overs what six bowlers had failed to do between them in 20 the previous evening, and dismiss both Babar Azam, who was caught off Wood at third man, and Mohammad Rizwan, who was bowled by Topley while trying to cut a ball that was too close to him. Wood also had Haider Ali caught at short midwicket.
That meant Pakistan were 21 for three and the game was as good as over bar a bit of lusty hitting from Shan Masood, who made 65 off 40.
England were 82 for three when Brook came in. Their debutant Will Jacks, who replaced Alex Hales at the top of the order, had made 40 of those. As well as he and Duckett, who made a fine 70 off 42, played, Brook looked something else. He has all the power he needs, and pulled a couple of his sixes into the metal fence twenty yards beyond the boundary rope, but he marries it with meticulous positioning. He scored with scoops, sweeps, drives, glances, pulls, and hooks even, and at least one shot that doesn’t have a name yet.
At one point he was able to drive Shahnawaz Dhanani down the ground for a six that travelled over the top of the non-striker’s middle stump, then, off the very next ball, a wide yorker, play a delicate late cut for four that beat both a short and deep third man. Haris Rauf did beat him with a bouncer, which somehow ended up rattling inside the grille of his helmet, without actually making contact with his face. It was a blessed evening for him, the first of many, you guess.