Pat Brown hoping red-hot form will lead to World T20 place for England

The Guardian

The Guardian

Author 2019-11-02 20:30:06

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His county teammates have accused him of suffering from red-ball rash but Pat Brown, whose rise to prominence has come as a death-overs specialist in short-form cricket, still harbours ambitions of becoming an all-format player.

The 21-year-old seamer has played five first-class games in his career but after two seasons starring in the T20 Blast led to Friday’s England debut in the victory over New Zealand, he can already call himself an international.

It was the steel shown in closing out the home side’s subpar innings that led to a healthy dose of praise from the captain, Eoin Morgan, on the day. Brown went for six runs in the 20th over – gold dust at that stage of proceedings – and removed the experienced Ross Taylor for his first international scalp.

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The dismissal was typical of the skills that earned his call-up for this T20 series: a slower ball fooled Taylor for a catch in the deep, even if Alan Richardson, Worcestershire’s respected bowling coach, joked that his pupil will tell folk that “c Bairstow b Brown” was a nick behind in years to come.

The bowler does not want to be pigeon-holed just yet, however, with a stress fracture detected in his lower back last winter – one that continues to be managed – the reason he did not appear during the 2019 County Championship campaign.

“I kept it simple [on his debut] but there are definitely more tricks to come,” said Brown, who will follow this tour with spells in Abu Dhabi’s T10 tournament and at the Melbourne Stars in Australia’s Big Bash League.

“It’s quite a nice compliment if people think I have written off first-class cricket. It means they rate my white‑ball stuff highly. But it’s something I’m definitely looking to do and stop the boys saying I have got red-ball rash.”

The back injury – one Brown puts down to his body “getting in some pretty minging positions” – allowed him to complete a degree in business management at the University of Worcester, although this first England outing has meant missing out on the graduation ceremony.

Brown said making the squad for next year’s T20 World Cup in Australia is on everyone’s mind in this fresh-faced touring party but he has yet to detect any “animosity towards the new boys or fear for people’s places”. That is not the way under Morgan, whose captaincy Brown likens to that of Moeen Ali’s at Worcestershire.

“They do it in different ways but get the same message across,” he said. “It’s calm and collected. They make you feel like you are going to nail whatever ball you go for and all they really ask for is clarity in your plan and to not going into something half-hearted.

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“Mo has made me a much better player over the last two years by [me] bouncing ideas off him and being in his company. He is an unbelievable player and it would be nice to have him here as a familiar face. But Morgs has been really good.”

Brown believes his two T20 Finals Day appearances – winning the trophy in 2018 before losing in the final this year – can only help him adjust to the atmosphere and scrutiny of international cricket. But it is 2018’s losing semi-final against Kent in the Royal London Cup, a tournament he will miss next year when playing in the Hundred, that shaped him as a death bowler after failing to defend 11 runs in the final over.

“Having that moment and that failure really spurred me on to be the man who gets the team over the line,” he said. “As a death bowler, you’ve got to want to do it. If you don’t fully commit to certain things and you are on the back foot, you get found out.”

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