POPE’S PRAYING FOR ASHES SPOT
AFTER toiling in the intense heat of India, England’s young brigade of batsmen will spend this summer sweating it on a place on the plane to Australia.
The 23-year-old trio of Zak Crawley (below, top), Ollie Pope and Dan Lawrence (below) will be eyeing a place in England’s top order in this winter’s Ashes.
All three know that a big summer of run scoring in both domestic and international cricket will be needed if they are to turn those dreams into reality.
And after mixed fortunes in India and Sri Lanka they’ll also be aware that age is on their side but time isn’t.
Pope returned to England having scored 153 runs at an average of just 19 during their 3-1 series defeat in India.
He had missed the earlier tour to Sri Lanka after successful surgery on his shoulder.
But with five fifties and a century against South Africa in his first 17 Tests, Pope is still an essential part of England’s future plans.
He maintains that England’s youthful batting resources are as strong as any in world cricket.
And they will be all the better from their experience in India.
“Obviously when we’re out there, we want to win and we want to score runs,” he said.
“We want to contribute to that winning side.
“There’s not many teams with a 25-year-old and three 23-year-olds (in the top six). It’s not managing expectations, it’s realising that this is a great learning experience for us, and for the future it’s only going to put us in good stead.
“We played on the bouncy wickets in South Africa, played a little bit in England and had the extremes of the subcontinent in India and Sri Lanka.
“Moving forward, hopefully we can keep scoring our runs, keep in the side and keep putting our name on that team sheet.
“We know exactly what it requires to be successful and that’s a massive positive moving forward.”
Pope’s own cricket education has been on fast-forward since he first broke into the
England team at the age of just 20 back in 2018.
He had only played his first match for
Surrey the previous spring. Wind forward to
2021, and he’s very much seen as a key part of England’s future. And despite his recent setbacks, he’s keeping a typically level head going into the summer.
He added: “It’s about staying mentally strong and sticking to your game plan but also being adaptable. If something is not working then you might have to change something.
“You need to learn as quickly as you can on the job but also try and trust yourself and trust your game and not let the low ones get to you too much.
“It’s trying to stay as level as you can, almost be at peace with one kind of dismissal and then try and keep adapting and try to improve your game.”