Harry Brook has decided to put records to the back of his mind after admitting a couple crept into his thinking when falling 11 runs short of a fourth Test century. Had the 23-year-old got there on day one of the first Test in New Zealand, he would have become the second Englishman to do so in four successive matches – a feat Ken Barrington managed twice in the 1960s.
But despite saying he was aware of this possible slice of history during his seventh Test innings, and also seeing his latest tilt at beating England’s fastest Test century (76 balls) thwarted, Brook was still satisfied at stumps.
He said: “[Brendon McCullum] has mentioned the fastest century and I went for it a couple of times in Pakistan. It was in my head a bit today, but I need to get that out of the back of my mind and concentrate on getting a hundred. It’s disappointing, but I’m not that bothered now because I would have bitten your hand off before the game to get 89.”
Brook was not the only England batter to roll over his form from the 3-0 clean sweep in Pakistan in December, with Ben Duckett’s 68-ball 84 furthering his hopes of opening in this summer’s Ashes series.
The left-hander was viewed as a possible horses-for-courses selection for that tour, his array of sweeps ideal for subcontinental conditions. But here he played a largely orthodox innings against a four-pronged seam attack once England were inserted at the toss and he said the pace of his knock was not deliberate. “I just see ball, hit ball.
“I didn’t have any intention to try and score quickly – it just happened. They bowled full to me early on and I got off to a good start. I batted normally. I pride myself on hundreds though, I was very disappointed with how I got out.”
Both men expanded on the decision by Stokes to declare nine down on the opening day of this day-night series opener, a move repaid in the final session as Jimmy Anderson and Ollie Robinson shared three precious wickets.
Brook said: “The best time to bowl is under these lights. You can extract the most amount of swing and seam, so why not try and expose their top order to that? There was no plan at dinner to declare though, me and Ben Foakes were still batting together at that stage and if I hadn’t got out the plan would’ve been the same. But because I got out, the plan changed.”
Duckett said: “We might have batted into [day two]. It was more of a tactical thing. But if anyone was going to do it, we were.”