Photo Credit: Professional Cricketers’ Association
Brook rewarded for fine Blast form whilst Smith wins first women’s award.
Harry Brook says playing regularly with England skipper Joe Root has been a “big learning curve”, after the 22-year-old and Bryony Smith were voted your PCA Players of the Month for June.
Brook was identified by the PCA Most Valuable Player (MVP) Rankings as one of the top four performers in the domestic game throughout the month, and he subsequently won the June award with a substantial 52.6% of the public vote.
He joins Derbyshire’s Matt Critchley (April) and Essex’s Simon Harmer (May) in having won a men’s PCA Player of the Month award this season.
Reacting to his win, Brook said that thorough preparation as well as learning from the likes of Root has been key to his success, particularly in the T20 format: “I’m very happy to win the PCA Player of the Month this month. I’ve tried to better myself with a lot of hard work over the winter, and hopefully that’s shown over the last month or two, especially in the Vitality Blast.
“I’m really happy with the way I’ve played in the T20s. I’m trying to play low-risk cricket and wait until the last few overs to take it apart. But I’m happy with the way I’ve played in T20 and hopefully I can carry it on into The Hundred.
“I’ve learned a lot from Rooty. Last year, we played against Derbyshire in a T20 and we knocked off their total of 168. That innings was a big learning curve for me and watching him play all the way through, taking low-risk options and taking it deep was something I learned a lot from.
“Rooty is not just a great player, but he’s a great bloke as well. He’s so approachable – you can talk to him whenever you want about your batting or your bowling and he’s always there to chat to. He’s really good to have around the changing room and he obviously brings a hell of a lot of experience to the team.”
Reflecting on the month just gone, the former England U19s captain cites his incredible match-saving partnership with Jordan Thompson against Worcestershire as his personal highlight, and he hopes that the young, talented squad at Yorkshire can push on for honours across all formats this season.
“It’s up there with my best ever innings in a Yorkshire shirt. When we were down the dumps and nearly out of the game, it was unbelievable to put on that partnership with Thommo and bring the innings back to life.
“Ever since I first learned to walk I’ve wanted to play for England, but I don’t want to look too far ahead.”
“Every year we’re trying to win silverware, but we’re really pushing for it this year. We’ve got great squads in both formats, as well as in the Royal London Cup, so we should be pushing for all three trophies and hopefully we can come back with one or two.
“Ever since I first learned to walk I’ve wanted to play for England, but I don’t want to look too far ahead. I’ve still got a lot of cricket to play with Yorkshire and I’ve got a big part to play in the Blast, so hopefully we can get through to the quarter-finals, Finals Day and then bring back some silverware.”
Smith claims first ever women’s award
This month, for the first time ever, fans were able to vote for their women’s PCA Player of the Month, and South East Stars’ Bryony Smith is a worthy recipient of the inaugural award.
After a close race with Thunder’s Emma Lamb, Smith won the award with 47.5% of the public vote, a reward for her impressive consistency across the first four rounds of the Rachael Heyhoe Flint Trophy, as well as the opening fixture of the brand-new 20-over Charlotte Edwards Cup.
The 23-year-old all-rounder has consistently contributed with bat and ball for the Stars, reflected in the fact that she has scored almost equal batting and bowling MVP points.
Smith counts the importance of the new domestic structure, as well as the presence of a number of England players in the Stars squad, as key contributing factors to her excellent form: “It’s obviously pretty special – I didn’t know I was the first ever winner of the women’s PCA Player of the Month. To be recognised not just by my teammates, but by the wider general public as well is a really good feeling. Hopefully it will be the first of many more.
“It was a pretty long winter, it was difficult to train and prepare properly with the Covid-19 restrictions that were in place. But the whole squad put in a lot of hard work from November onwards which allowed us to hit the ground running in that first game against Sunrisers, and we managed to get off to a really good start including my own performance (59 and 3-47).
“The new structure has been massive for me. Just being able to play consistent cricket at a really high level will benefit everyone. The standard’s been amazing and wickets have been better than people were expecting, and to have played both formats can only help us moving forwards.
“We have quite a few England girls in the Stars squad, so just being around them is also really beneficial for the younger girls especially. You learn something new in every training session, even if it is just small skills that you pick up. It’s really important for the quality of the game in this country.”
After one further round of Charlotte Edwards Cup fixtures, Smith is looking forward to travelling to Cardiff to appear for Welsh Fire in The Hundred. The 23-year-old hopes she can carry her excellent form into the new competition, with long-term ambitions of further England honours to add to her four international caps she gained in 2018-19.
“I’m really excited for The Hundred. It will be a bit of a change of scenery for me going off to Wales, but it’s going to be massive for cricket and especially the women’s game.”
“I’m really excited for The Hundred. It will be a bit of a change of scenery for me going off to Wales, but it’s going to be massive for cricket and especially the women’s game, so I can’t wait to get going!
“I’m trying not to think about playing for England too much, but if that opportunity comes around then I’ll try to grab it with both hands. If not, then I’m happy with where I am here and I want to keep putting in performances for South East Stars and Welsh Fire.”