It’s been another busy winter for Jack Brooks.
As well as working through his pre-season programme, the Somerset bowler has been working with Western Storm, the Sporting Chance charity and Oxford United FC.
We caught up with him earlier this week to find out how he’s been fitting everything in.
“It’s been pretty full on since November,” he explained. “I’ve moved house, been working on my fitness and also looking into opportunities outside of cricket as well as some personal development things. Since January I’ve been back at the Cooper Associates County Ground, and I’ve been training really hard. I’m inspired by these youngsters in the squad and how they go about their business. It’s keeping me younger and making me stay as sharp as possible. There’s a really good training mantra and ethos within the squad and it’s a great group to be around. Everyone’s really excited for the start of the new season.
“I’ve spent most of the winter with Kasey [Aldridge], Ned [Leonard] and Sonny [Baker]. They’re the next generation of Somerset seamers and hopefully they’ll bear the brunt of the seam attack for the next 15 years and carry the Club forward. They know what they want to achieve and there’s a great energy and focus about them.”
How has the coaching role at Western Storm come about?
“Over the winter I’ve been looking into some coaching opportunities and I’ve got my Level Three coaching badge. I wanted to see what I can learn about myself from coaching others and whether I can have a positive impact on young cricketers. I spoke with [Western Storm Head Coach] Trevor Griffin and asked him if I could just see how he went about things because the women’s game is getting bigger and bigger and there’s so much talent coming through.
“Trevor said that he was looking to recruit a bowling coach and a batting coach, and I said that although I’ve got a First Class hundred I might be better suited to helping with the bowling! I’m now spending two afternoons a week working with Western Storm.
“It’s been amazing. The players are so open to learning and it’s great to be a part of these young player’s journeys. There’s some serious talent there. Most recently I’ve been working with Lauren Filer. She’s a massive prospect. She bowls quick, she’s tall and she’s got skills.
“Heather Knight has been in a few times too and it’s been really interesting to see how the England Captain goes about her business. It’s been a massive learning curve for me and I’ve found it really enjoyable and rewarding. Hopefully, I can still help support them in the summer.
“The women’s game is going from strength to strength and it’s really exciting that young girls have the chance to develop as players and can go on to have lengthy careers in the game.”
Jack has also teamed up with Sporting Chance, as he explained.
“Sporting Chance are a charity that I’ve used myself in the past and I think it’s important to give something back. I like engaging with people and helping people. With the Charity I put on a workshop on mental health awareness to Tottenham Under 17s in December and I’m looking to do more workshops to football teams and other sports teams.
“They’ve taken me on as an ambassador to help grow their name and hopefully I can help to drive awareness of what they do. They’re fantastic and I’ve met some really interesting people from different backgrounds, and it’s been really eye opening to be involved. It’s made me think about possibly getting a counselling qualification so that I can officially help people in that capacity, whether that be mentoring or a voluntary role.
“I find the community engagement element of the job incredibly rewarding. I enjoy the fact that we can have a positive impact on people. It’s important that we do things like going to hospitals at Christmas to give out presents and working with organisations like Selworthy School. Last year we did some work with a young lad called Jayden who had cancer and we met his whole family. It was good to catch up with them throughout the year at games and whenever we could. There was a happy ending to the story and it was good to be able to share his journey. To be able to see the impact that our support had on him and his parents, who were also obviously going through a lot too, was special.
“Everyone goes through tough times and that’s when you find out who will stand up and be there for you. If we can go out of our way and give a little bit extra to show that we do genuinely care, then it’s vital. Being connected with the local community is massive and it can have a big impact on people when they need it. If we can help someone just by being there for a few minutes, then let’s do it.”
Jack is also a big Oxford United supporter, and he has been working with them as well this winter.
“I know a few people who are associated with Oxford, and I’ve spent some time with them in the off-season doing things like meeting commercial partners etc. I also know that they’re looking to expand their women’s game.
“I’ve been exploring different options because although I might be able to play cricket for a year or two yet, I also know that I might realistically finish this summer, so I need to have some plans in place especially because I’m going to become a dad this summer. That definitely puts an emphasis on looking at the future!
“It’s an exciting time and hopefully I’ll have a lot of options given the number of things that I’m trying out at the moment. Hopefully, I’ll find something that lights that fire of passion and enjoyment like I’ve had in cricket.”