Harry Brook’s brilliant performances against Pakistan mean he is “nailed on” to play England’s opening game at the T20 World Cup, according to Nasser Hussain.
Brook struck his maiden T20I half-century as he made an unbeaten 81 from just 35 balls to lead England to a dominant win over Pakistan on Friday.
The 23-year-old Yorkshire batter also struck a crucial 42 not out to guide England to victory in the opening game of the series, while he made 31 in a losing effort in the second meeting of the seven-match contest.
England are fielding an inexperienced side in Pakistan, with the likes of Ben Stokes and Liam Livingstone absent, and captain Jos Buttler yet to feature in the series as he recovers from a calf injury.
All three are expected to have returned to Matthew Mott’s XI by the time England launch their T20 World Cup campaign against Afghanistan on October 22.
“In that first World Cup game, in Perth against Afghanistan, Brook must be pencilled in at No 5,” former England captain Hussain said. “He’s a serious talent.
“Harry Brook is just going to be superstar in all formats, he really is. His run-getting over the last couple of years at Yorkshire has been prolific and I think it will continue to be.
“His all-around-the-ground hitting is a key point. Some players will target the leg side, but if you bowl outside off to him, he’ll go over extra cover as well, so there’s no area that you’re safe.
“He’s 360 but in a different way. Like most players now he’s got fast hands, he never really loses his shape, and he continues to be consistent.”
Hussain added that England should resist the temptation to attempt to move Brook any higher in the batting order than the No 5 position from which he has been excelling.
“Batting at five is not an easy position to come in,” he said. “You ask anyone in white-ball cricket where you like to bat then it’s in the top two or three, as you’re batting in the power play and you’re already in when spin comes on and pace is coming off the ball.
“Every time he has been coming in at five, he has been prolific and consistent, because he has done it before at Yorkshire.
“Going into this series you were looking at how we get Brook into the starting XI, but I can’t see how you can leave him out now. I really can’t, he’s that good of a player and he’s very good in the field as well.
“I think, for me, he’s absolutely nailed-on for that No 5 spot for the first game in that World Cup.”
‘England must manage Wood’
England’s star with the ball in Friday’s victory was the returning Mark Wood, who made his first appearance since March after recovering from injury.
Wood produced an express spell, in which his bowling reached speeds as high as 97mph, as he took the crucial wickets of Pakistan captain Babar Azam and fellow top-order batter Haider Ali at the start of the hosts’ innings.
Hussain believes Wood’s return is a huge boost for England, but has warned that the 32-year-old must be carefully managed between now and the World Cup.
“England are a better side in any format with Mark Wood in the team,” Hussain said. “You need that pace, and he’s got express pace, but he’s got accuracy with it as well.
“Everyone focuses in on the 97mph, but…the players nowadays, if that’s wide they’ll just flay you over point for six, over third man they’ll upper-cut you. He’s accurate, he’s right in at you.
“He’ll need managing. It may be game on, game off, but you don’t want him ready for Karachi on Sunday, you want him ready for Afghanistan in Perth.
“There’s no point in pushing him. He’s a racehorse, they don’t come around too often these sort of cricketers, so you really have to take care of them.”