Cricket

Pat Brown "very close" to England after memorable T20 campaign


Pat Brown was hailed by Moeen Ali as possessing England quality after completing an outstanding breakthrough season in the Vitality Blast by helping Worcestershire to their first T20 title.

Brown was barely known, even in the tight-knit community of county cricket, in April, but he finished the Blast season with 31 wickets, a figure only exceeded by Alfonso Thomas – the Great Alfonso as they dubbed him in Somerset – who took 33 wickets in 2010.

Brown had a great start to Finals Day when he took four wickets in a semi-final win against Lancashire. He missed his chance to surpass Thomas’ record, in what would have been two fewer matches, when he went wicketless in the final, but he attracted great recognition nevertheless as he conceded only 15 runs in four overs with Sussex becoming the latest county to be baffled by his variations.

It was all ample reward for his ambition two years ago when he showed the ambition to travel from Lincolnshire to Wellington School in Somerset to attend a Cricket Strength Pace Factor trial day run by Ross Dewar, Worcestershire’s strength and conditioning coach, and the former county fast bowler and coach, Steffan Jones.

Moeen, relishing his role as Worcestershire captain despite a tough England schedule, said of Brown, a slightly-built 20-year-old seamer from Lincolnshire. “From game one this season, I felt he was getting better game by game. The quality he is showing is international standard. I’ve not seen anybody in county cricket get hold of him yet.

“It’s not just what he bowls. He has the character and the guts to go a long way. I don’t want to get too carried away but he has a bright future, hopefully for England.

“I don’t face him that much. I just get a few underarms from time to time. Even in the nets it is difficult. No-one can pick him at the moment. It’s not just that. He is very smart with the lengths and lines he bowls.”

Brown’s stock ball is his knuckle ball, which he utilises about 65% of the time. Added to that is an off-cutter and a quicker ball which now regularly is clocked above 80mph. Add accuracy and changes of length that at his best have felt almost telepathic and he has made quite an impression.

Moeen does not feel that talk of England is over the top. “I think after today he is very close,” he said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if he gets something in the winter. I can see him getting a chance in T20 or one-day matches or something.

“If we keep winning, and on big stages like this, I’m sure people will raise eyebrows about some of our players. But that’s a long way away. Today is about celebrating Worcestershire’s success.”

James Anderson, who was part of the BBC commentary team at Finals Day, also did not stint with his praise. “Pat Brown is possibly the find of the tournament,” he said. “It is a phenomenal effort for a 20-year-old.

“He has had a good tournament but to come to Finals Day, when the pressure is on and show such amazing maturity, was superb. He looks as good as anyone I have seen in T20 cricket. He has got all the skills.”

Brown went to the Wellington School pace trial primarily to see if he could increase his pace, but his potential was immediately appreciated by several counties. He opted for a cricket scholarship at the University of Worcester, a path favoured in the past by Worcestershire players such as Daryl Mitchell and George Rhodes. His T20 debut came in a handful of matches in 2017 and he also made his Championship bow in the final game of Worcestershire’s promotion season.

Kevin Sharp, Worcestershire’s head coach, stressed that Brown’s development had been very much a team effort, not just with Dewar but also the previous coach and bowling coach, Steve Rhodes and Matt Mason, both of whom have now left the county. Most closely of all throughout this summer, Brown has struck up a strong relationship with Alan Richardson, the county’s bowling coach.

“I think it is also about having a good support network for a player,” Sharp said. “Pat has a fine bowling coach in Alan Richardson, that’s for sure.

“He is a good learner and a good listener and he has a big heart. He really is the sort of lad who is really up for the occasion. He is quite aggressive at times with his bowling but he has developed a fantastic array of deliveries.”

So which deliveries were devised by Brown and which by Richardson? “It’s a secret between them two,” Sharp smiled. “I just let them get on with it.”



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