|Venue: The Kia oval Events: 8-12 September Start time: 11am BST|
|Cover: Ball-by-Ball Test Match Feature commentary on BBC Radio 5 Live Sports Extra, BBC Radio 4 LW and BBC Sport Website & App. Live text commentary and in-play clips on the BBC Sport website and app|
Pauline Brooks clothesline is employed by her grandson Harry.
A Brook shirt is often hung out to dry in the garden overlooking Burley-in-Wharfdale Cricket Club.
Yorkshire, Northern Superchargers, Hobart Hurricanes, Lahore Qalanders. There is also an England test shirt on the way.
“She loves to do my laundry,” says Brook. “If she ever says she doesn’t like it, she’s lying.
“She’s been on vacation recently, so I might have some smelly stuff floating around.”
It was at Burley that Brooks’ journey to the 707 title of the English men’s Test cap began.
His late grandfather Tony, Pauline’s husband, was a steadfast club. Today there is a bench on the ground that bears his name. Tony’s sons – David, Richard and Nick – all acted. David is Harry’s father.
“Come rain or shine, I’ve been in the Nets with my dad, grandpa and my uncles,” says Brook, who will make his Test debut by finishing fifth in the series’ decider against South Africa at The Oval, which begins Thursday beats.
The 23-year-old right-hander is the modern hitter through and through. Already a global franchise star with four Twenty20 caps, he’s also enjoying the best Red Ball summer of his life.
Averaging more than 100, three of his seven top-notch hundreds have come this year. He was only denied a fourth because the 140 he made for the England Lions against the traveling South Africans was in it a game that didn’t have prime status because there were more than 11 players per side.
A starter as a youngster, Brook oozes the aggression that characterizes the new England side. He has attack options over 360 degrees and there is a reference to Kevin Pietersen regarding his punches.
Back at Burley, Brook started mishandling the bat.
“Young Harry Brook, two or three years old, would hold the racquet up with his lower hand and vice versa,” says Burley coach David Cooper.
“Nevertheless, he still hit the ball. He had a wonderful eye and an appetite to hit balls.”
Brook was scoring goals in the men’s second and third teams for half a century when he was 13 and playing in the first eleven by 14. By then he had secured a scholarship to the prestigious Sedbergh School in Cumbria, which is historically known for producing rugby internationals and has a growing reputation for cricket.
By this time Brook, who has admitted to carrying a few extra pounds as a youngster, had committed to going the extra mile to pursue a career in cricket.
“Before he went to Sedbergh he was told he wasn’t going to be a county cricketer because he couldn’t play. He was carrying a bit more weight,” says Cooper.
“So that’s what he got his mind on. I looked over the fence on a dark, wet evening and saw him running up and down the field and then dropping to the ground for push-ups and sit-ups.”
Fitness work at Sedbergh continued two hours a week with an athletics coach, but under the tutelage of former Sussex and Durham wicketkeeper Martin Speight, Brook honed his batting skills.
“Starting the second day of the semester in September, I start at 6:20 a.m. on the Nets every day, Monday through Friday,” says Speight. “He trained every morning.
“I told one of my best friends, hockey coach Mark Shopland, if you ever bet on a boy to play for England, put it on that boy. He did, he put 100 pounds on him at 100-1.”
In year 10, Brook hit six sixes in an over. By the time he was in sixth grade he had made his debut for Yorkshire’s first team.
Despite his higher sporting aspirations, Brook still wanted to compete in a Sedbergh initiation rite, the Wilson Run – a 10-mile race across the Cumbria fells that has been held since 1891.
“He came back from an England U19 tour to India with a broken hand but still wanted to do the Wilson Run,” says Speight, who will be at The Oval on Thursday after being invited by Brook.
“He did it in about an hour and 40 minutes – through rivers and up and down. That is a fantastic achievement.”
A further stage in Brooks’ cricket education came in Sydney’s notoriously fierce cricket competition with the University of New South Wales, the former club of Australia internationals Michael Slater, Geoff Lawson and Dan Christian.
Living on campus during the 2018-19 season, Brook “had a good time and enjoyed varsity life,” according to teammate Hayden McLean.
“He advertised his apartment as a place to chill and have a few drinks after a long night, but it was a one-bedroom dorm,” says McLean.
“We said, ‘Buddy, you can’t have five or six of us over there for a drink, it’s not a palace.'”
Brook also enjoyed it on the field, averaging more than 60 with the racquet.
“Even as an opener he often advanced in the wicket,” says McLean. “He made a hundred against Manly. There are hedges at both ends of our field and I remember him sending fast bowlers over their heads back into the hedges.
“They called him a selfish cricketer and said he was just out there by himself. He laughed at that.
“It wasn’t disrespectful, it was just someone encouraging his ability. Some of the other England cricketers I’ve played against overdid it, but Harry was a really clear head. He knew what his plans were, what he was good at it and he supported himself.”
Brook made his England debut in a T20 international against West Indies in January. Despite only playing in the shortest format at international level, he has been a constant presence in Test and ODI squads and looks like a likely multi-format international of the future.
He gets his chance due to Jonny Bairstow’s unusual broken leg, which fulfills the prediction of current Test skipper Ben Stokes, who had eyed Brook as a future England player when they were together at Northern Superchargers last summer.
“There are things that stand out about certain players – the time they have in goal area, the shots they play,” says Stokes.
“It’s hard to put your finger on it, but there’s something that puts them above other people you see play.”
Not that Stokes is always polite about his new Test teammate.
“He’s a bit stupid but that’s what makes him such a good player,” Stokes joked. “I was also often called stupid.”
“I wasn’t very good at school but my cricket brain is fine.”
It does not matter. Brook can let his goons do the talking and then take his laundry to Grandma Pauline.