5 things you may not know about England new boy Ollie Pope
Pope will be an unfamiliar face to many when he arrives at Lord’s for a possible Test debut this week.
Twenty-year-old Ollie Pope has a shot at a Lord’s Test debut this week after replacing Dawid Malan in England’s 13-man squad to face India.
Here, Press Association Sport tracks what is known to date about the rising star from Surrey.
Made in Chelsea
Pope has made his name at The Oval but was born just across the county border in Chelsea. If he gets the nod at Lord’s, he ought therefore still feel on familiar ground at the home of Middlesex – and cricket.
It is less than 18 months since he made his first-class debut, for Surrey against Oxford MCC University in The Parks – as a wicketkeeper at number seven, from where he made a near run-a-ball 38 in his first innings of a drawn fixture. In his first professional match, in August 2016, he helped Surrey reach a Lord’s final in the Royal London Cup – showing no nerves, by making 20 in a 19-run semi-final win over Yorkshire at Headingley.
Such has been the speed of Pope’s progress on the rails, sports databases are still playing catch-up on their biography pages. Before his call-up on Sunday morning, a mere 2,000 Twitter followers – and a few more on Instagram – were keeping up to date with his news. Photographs of him are in short supply too, so there may just be some double-takes from stewards at the Grace Gates when he tries to pass himself off as an England cricketer on arrival for nets at Lord’s.
Another graduate of Surrey’s youth set-up
Pope will be joining up again with his Surrey friend, long-time age-group team-mate, and fellow 20-year-old, Sam Curran. There will be echoes too of his first county championship match, less than a year ago in late August last summer when – for the first time for any club since the Second World War – he was one of four teenagers in the home line-up against Middlesex at The Oval. Curran, 152 days younger, was one of the others alongside Amar Virdi and Ryan Patel. Ben Foakes took the gloves and also made 73, batting one position above Pope. He has long been in the reckoning for a Test debut too, and was in England’s Ashes squad last winter, but at the age of 25 it seems the ex-Essex wicketkeeper is about to see Pope get there before him.
Youth is no barrier to international experience these days, and Pope made sure he took his opportunity when he flew Down Under last winter to play Grade cricket for Campbelltown-Camden in Sydney. While England were losing the Ashes 4-0, he set about scoring plenty of runs – finishing just three short of 1,000 in 23 matches.