Dawid Malan dropped as selectors call in Ollie Pope for second Test
Twenty-year-old batsman Ollie Pope is the new name in England’s squad for the Lord’s Test.
England have dropped out-of-form Dawid Malan and replaced him with uncapped 20-year-old batsman Ollie Pope in their 13-man squad to face India at Lord’s this week.
Pope’s promotion is one of two changes, with the other enforced as Chris Woakes returns in place of Ben Stokes. The Durham all-rounder is absent for the second Specsavers Test while he attends Bristol Crown Court on a charge of affray.
National selector Ed Smith, who has already made a clutch of bold calls since beginning his tenure this summer, has again placed his faith in youth by selecting Pope. He is the same age as Surrey team-mate Sam Curran, who was England’s man of the match in the thrilling 31-run win at Edgbaston.
Less than 24 hours later, Pope, also a wicketkeeper but in the Test frame as yet only as a specialist batsman – has entered the equation on the back of his outstanding county form so far this season.
Smith said: “Ollie Pope has made an exceptional start to his first-class career.
“He has reached one thousand first-class runs in just 15 matches and is the first division’s ‘stand-out’ batsman this season with 684 runs at 85.
“The selection panel believe that Ollie’s performances and character suggest he is well-suited to international cricket.”
Pope has hit three championship hundreds this summer, with a top score of 158 not out, and also an unbeaten half-century in England Lions’ wide-margin win over India A at Worcester last month.
His chances of making a Lord’s debut appear strong, although England could conceivably field both seamer Woakes and off-spinner Moeen Ali as two all-round options and rejig their batting order.
Middlesex batsman Malan has been short of runs this summer, with only 74 in five Test innings – after which Smith appears to have indicated an extended absence may be in the offing.
He said: “Dawid has not found his best rhythm this season, and it may be that his game is better suited to overseas conditions.
“Ben Stokes is unavailable – but Chris Woakes, with some extra matches and practices under his belt, can now return to the England squad after injury.”
Pope will take confidence, meanwhile, from the impact his friend Curran has had for England already.
The pair have played age-group cricket together for several years, and Pope told Surrey’s website, kiaoval.com: “It’s really exciting.
“It’s been awesome seeing Sammy go this week, and it makes you realise you can come in as 20-year old and have a big impact.
“With us having these guys in the (Surrey) dressing room playing for England or being near it, we’re all in a similar boat, so we know how to act around each other.”
Pope was also give a peek at Test preparations when England invited him to Lord’s to spend time with the squad before the start of the two-match series against Pakistan in May.
He said: “It was good to get around the team for the day then.
“I got to know the guys a bit better – and also I now know what it’s like on the morning of the first Test at Lord’s.
“I know the hotel we’ll stay in the night before – I know where I need to be and when I need to be there.
“That made that day a pretty valuable experience.”
– England (v India at Lord’s): JE Root (Captain), MM Ali, JM Anderson, JM Bairstow (wkt), SCJ Broad, JC Buttler, AN Cook, SM Curran, KK Jennings, OJD Pope, JA Porter, AU Rashid, CR Woakes