Brooks takes chance with arms wide open

SHOT: Wallsend opener Ryan Brooks relished his recent return to the top of the order, rescuing the Tigers’ innings by batting for most of the day’s play and scoring a first-grade best 96. Picture: Jonathan CarrollRyan Brooks has batted just about everywhere in Wallsend’sline-up this season.

Across nine appearances the 20-year-old tiler has shuffled from five to four, six and then eight.

But the Elermore Valeresident feels most at home at the top of the order and made the most of Saturday’s chance to open the innings, scoring a first-grade best 96.

”I’ve beenall round the orderthis year,” Brooks said.

“I opened a couple of years ago, but Igot the opportunity to go back up topthis week and capitalised.

“Personally I’d rather be up the top, but wherever I’m needed I’ll bat.

“It’s trying to find the right balance and there’s a couple of boys in the side who can open the batting so Ihad to slot down to eight for a couple of weeks and just wait my turn.”

And while naturally “shattered” not to reach the magical three-figure mark when the Newcastle District Cricket Association competition resumed, it may have been the nature of the knock that was more impressive.

Brooks was the Tigers mainstay against Newcastle City at No.1 Sportsground, the second last man out after almost 80 overs of work across five hours of play.

It also came when his side needed it most, recovering from 3-8, 6-25 and then 7-55 to reach a respectable total of 235, including a 137-run eighth-wicket partnership with No.9 Matt Wicks (77).

DEFENCE: Wallsend’s Ryan Brooks. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

“Had to be done,” Brooks said.“Afterlosing wickets earlysomeone had to be there to dig in and it justso happened to be me.

“It was almost five hours in the end and it was pretty warm out there as well. That was probably the most challenging thing.”

Almost immediately Brooks was back out there, behind the stumps as wicketkeeper for Wallsend’s 10 fruitful overs at City (1-31).

He has picked the gloves back up from Josh Forsyth this campaign and “loves it”.

Brooks, who has played seniors at Wallsend since 2010-2011 and claimed two under-21 titles, said his own game benefited from an off-season trip to the UK.

He “scored a few hundreds to get the confidence up” while representing Tichborne Park in the Hampshire Cricket League, south-west of London.

Brooks will return to the same club this upcoming winter, but in the meantime the Tigers are locked in a battle to make the top four.

They last reached the semi-finals four summers ago and finished second last in 2016-2017. Only eight points separate fourth and Wallsend in eighth.

A win over the third-placed Sabres this weekend would keep the Tigers in the mix with another four, two-day encounters remaining.

“It’s really tight and it’s been a good comp this year,” Brooks said.