Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Surrey Putting Faith in Pope as They Chase T20 Heaven

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Surrey Putting Faith in Pope as They Chase T20 Heaven

Article excerpt

Byline: Will Macpherson Cricket Correspondent

OLLIE POPE has even surprised himself this summer. Aged 20, only one man his captain at table-topping Surrey, Rory Burns has more than his 653 Championship runs, which includes three centuries.

Now, Pope's attention turns to T20, the format in which he settled into the side last year and that his rubbery wrists and fast feet suit perfectly. Tomorrow at Lord's against Middlesex and on Friday at the Kia Oval against Kent, he will be one of depleted Surrey's most important players.

"Everyone looks forward to going out and showcasing T20 skills," he says. "The brand of cricket England are playing is so exciting. It might not look it, but it's a tactical game really. I have to work out my role, then go and let fly in front of full houses at the Oval."

Like many breakout summers, Pope's was built on a strong winter. He spent the bulk of it treading the well-worn path to Sydney's grades, playing for Campbell-Camden. It was a spell rich with runs (996 of them), but enriching, too. He made such a contribution to club life that he was commended in New South Wales' state parliament by Chris Patterson MP, his club's vicepresident. That's one way to say thanks.

"It's a great experience for a young guy because I hadn't played a massive amount of really good, tough cricket," he says. "It was great for me, having responsibilities, being the overseas player, fending for yourself, not knowing people. It made me more independent and I learnt to look after myself." From Sydney, Pope flew to Barbados for the North-South series. His two innings brought 106 runs and he left with his reputation enhanced again, not least because he kept wicket too. Adaptability is his greatest asset, with the bat and in the field.

Perhaps the most important confidence-builder did not even involve Pope directly. …

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