Ollie Pope believes he has lost the fear of getting out following England’s Test cricket revolution under the guidance of skipper Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum.
Since Stokes took over the permanent captaincy, Pope was promoted to bat at No 3 in the summer and retained the wicketkeeping gloves over a fit Ben Foakes for the series-clinching victory over Pakistan in Multan.
James Anderson, who has been around the national side for almost two decades, declared in the summer that, under the current leadership, he was “the happiest he’s ever felt” in an England side, and it seems that sentiment is trickling down to the younger members of the squad, such as Pope.
Saturday 17th December 4:30am
“I feel a new player at the minute, personally, to what I felt in the past playing for England,” the 24-year-old old Pope said ahead of the final Test of the series in Karachi, which starts on Saturday and is live on Sky Sports. “I feel I’ve been a bit more consistent, I’ve stopped fearing getting out.
“The two guys at the top have helped me grow, not confidence but the freedom to express myself and how I want to play. It’s been great for me, hopefully I keep that consistency.”
Pope has cut a composed figure behind the stumps during this tour and has taken 10 catches and one stumping in the first two Tests of the series in Pakistan.
Having filled in for an ill Foakes during the first Test in Rawalpindi, the Surrey player was entrusted with the responsibility again in Multan. However, he insisted that his focus remains on consistently scoring runs at No 3.
“I’d still love to tie down No 3, make that my own,” Pope said. “That will be my primary focus.
“Obviously, different conditions, somewhere like New Zealand, we might go with a more regular team – that’s not for me to decide, my main priority is to keep churning out runs at number three.”
Harry Brook has immediately taken to Test cricket and, after three matches, boasts an average of 73.80, scored at a strike rate of just under one a ball.
The Yorkshireman’s success has earned high praise from his captain, who after the conclusion of the Multan Test match likened the 23-year-old to Virat Kohli for his attributes across red and white-ball cricket.
Brook believes the style of cricket played by the current England team has helped his seamless transition into the longest format.
“The lads just say go out there and do what you’re doing for your county side, and I think I have done really,” Brook said.
“I’ve gone out there and I think I slot into this team fairly well with the way I’ve played, I’m generally quite an aggressive player who always looks to score and put the bowler under pressure.
“So, it suits my natural game, and it’s been quite easy to slot in, and the lads have been great. So it’s been good fun.”
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