CRICKET

Evening Times - - TENNIS -

RORY DOLLARD

OL­LIE Pope has set his sights on be­com­ing one of the world’s lead­ing bats­men and is tak­ing his cues from the best in the busi­ness.

Pope is just five matches into his in­ter­na­tional ca­reer but is be­ing tipped as the most promis­ing young player to emerge from county cricket since his Eng­land cap­tain, Joe Root.

The 22-year-old boasts a tow­er­ing first-class aver­age of 58.06 and is be­gin­ning to find his feet at in­ter­na­tional level, with half-cen­turies in two of his last three in­nings head­ing into to­mor­row’s third Test against South Africa. And Pope has made a point of watch­ing and learn­ing from the most dom­i­nant play­ers of the cur­rent gen­er­a­tion - Steve Smith and Vi­rat Kohli.

Re­flect­ing on the im­pres­sive 61 not out he made last week in Cape Town, Pope said: “The way I went about my in­nings was just re­mem­ber­ing how some of the best play­ers in the world have done it.

“I re­mem­ber watch­ing Smith and Kohli from when they played against Eng­land and how, even when they were nine down, they were try­ing to face al­most ev­ery ball.

“You ask any young bats­man com­ing into the game, 100 per cent they are the guys you want to be like – and Rooty.

“They have been the main run-scor­ers in in­ter­na­tional cricket over the last how­ever many years and hope­fully I’ve got the game that I can start build­ing to­wards that, get some big scores and fol­low in some of their foot­steps.”

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