Having batted at No. 3 in the first innings, deputising for the injured Ollie Pope, Brook returned to his customary No. 5 spot in England’s second innings. They needed a further 158 runs to win with seven wickets remaining when he walked out, but the loss of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jonny Bairstow either side of lunch left him as the last specialist batter standing.
Asked on Channel Nine how England’s win compared to previous victories he had been a part of, Brook said: “I think that tops it to be honest. To do it in the Ashes, at home on my home ground as well, it was very good… it hasn’t quite sunk in yet, but I’m sure it will after a few drinks.”
He admitted to having “a little blow-up” in the changing room after his dismissal, with 21 runs still required, but only had to wait 14 balls for Woakes to hit the winning runs through cover-point and give England their first victory in a men’s Ashes Test since 2019.
“It’s a lot more nerve-wracking when you’re sat up there than in the middle,” he told Sky Sports. “I’m not one to blow up when I get in the changing room but I had a little blow-up today. I like getting us over the line and yeah, it was annoying that I didn’t today, but I’m happy we won.
“Everybody [in the dressing room] erupted. We only needed about 20 runs, and I had complete and utter faith in Woakesy and Woody. It was tense for a little while but when Woody hit that six, we kind of knew it was on.”
He added: “Me and Woakesy were just trying to build a partnership there, just trying to go down in fives: we got it down to 40 and we said, ‘Let’s try and get it down to 35’; then, ‘Let’s try and get it down to 30.’ Then obviously I got out, which made it a bit more nerve-wracking.
“[Woakes] has been a phenomenal player for England. Obviously, he hasn’t played as much in the last couple years but to have him back in the side and play a vital part like he has done there is really good.”
Brook played tentatively in the first innings, edging Pat Cummins to second slip for 3, and said his dismissal caused him to recommit to his attacking instincts in the second innings. “In the last couple of innings, I feel like I’ve got out being stuck on the crease a little bit,” he said. “I feel like I’m at my best when I’m looking to score and put pressure on the bowler.
“I was trying to be a bit more aggressive today. I hate it when I nick off when I get stuck on the crease, so I’d rather get caught at second slip playing a massive drive to be honest, but I’m glad I got a few.”
His return to No. 5 owed to Moeen Ali, who approached Brendon McCullum and asked to be promoted on the third evening. “He came up to Brendon and said, ‘I want to have a crack at No. 3 and take these guys on,'” Ben Stokes explained. “It wasn’t necessarily a free hit for us but I loved that, in the pressure of a chase, he wanted to go out and deliver for the team.”
Brook admitted that he preferred the switch, though Stokes hinted that it is unlikely to be a permanent solution. “I’ve batted No. 5 for the last four or five years of my career, whether it’s with England or Yorkshire, so I probably feel most comfortable there,” he said. “But I’m happy to just be in the XI.”
He has played for Yorkshire since Under-13 level and has spent many years compiling a strong record at Headingley, but this was Brook’s first international match at his home ground in any format. “That’s probably the best part, to be honest,” he told Sky Sports.
“I’ll know a lot of people out there in the crowd and to have done it in front of the home crowd is really nice. It always is [loud], whether it’s a T20 Blast game or an England Test match. They’re always good here. But that is the worst part about being a professional cricketer: every single person messages you asking for a ticket.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98