Yorkshire Diamonds may have fallen short today in their match against Southern Vipers, but they will take plenty of comfort from the performance of Thea Brookes.
Promoted up the order to number 4 in the absence of Lauren Winfield with (would you believe it!) food poisoning, Brookes entered the fray today with her side 15-2 and in danger of an embarrassing collapse.
But Brookes appeared unfazed, racking up 45 off 36 balls at a strike rate of 125.00, in an innings that included 7 boundaries.
“I’m so proud of the fact that the coaches can trust me to go up the order,” she reflected after the match. “It allows me to play with freedom, and that for me is a win in itself. I’m thrilled to have that opportunity.”
The highlight of her innings was a six sent back over the head of Suzie Bates to bring up 50 for the Diamonds, in an over that was punished for 13 runs and sent Vipers’ captain and senior bowler Bates out of the attack until the 18th over.
It was an impressive performance from a player who has generally hit big lower down the order in KSL, often when the result was already a foregone conclusion, but before today had never batted in the top 4 in the tournament.
“I went to the coaches and said: ‘I’m more than happy to come up the order slightly, to try and relieve a bit of pressure off the internationals,” Brookes said. “If they can come in with runs on the board it’s a bit different than if we’re losing a couple of quick wickets early.” Tactically, her promotion made absolute sense: before today in KSL 2018 Brookes had a strike rate of 164.77, higher than almost all her teammates.
Brookes was also complimentary of Katherine Brunt’s captaincy, after she stepped into the breach with Winfield out of the reckoning. Brookes had not yet bowled an over in KSL 2018 when Brunt today chose to entrust her with the 17th, at a crucial juncture in the Vipers innings.
“I thanked her in the changing rooms after,” Brookes said. “Just thanked her for the trust. It’s like having a pat on the back saying, ‘we believe in you mate, you can do this, have the ball and have a go’. It’s belief in my ability. It was so nice.”
That trust was repaid handsomely when Brookes conceded just 4 runs from her over and also picked up the key wicket of Mignon du Preez, bowling her round her legs as Vipers failed to make hay, from that over at least.
Will Brookes retain her spot at number 4 when Winfield returns to the fray? Brookes certainly hopes so: “If I can bat at 4 every game, happy days!” she said.
And from a Diamonds perspective, it also makes sense. Because in a tournament where scores above 160 are becoming the norm, it is players who can bat like Thea Brookes that are the future.