Ollie Pope made a fantastic return to the England eleven at the Oval against India with crucial 81-run innings. At his home ground, where he averages over 100 runs per innings in first-class cricket, Ollie Pope helped England take a lead after having bailed them out from 62/5.
However, this return has been on the back of some disappointing returns with the bat over the last 18 months, after he had hit a terrific maiden century last year in January in South Africa. He had not reached 50 in his 15 previous Test innings.
Nasser Hussain observed a critical change in the 23-year-old’s technique: he has now shifted to a middle-stump guard from an off-stump guard which he had deployed in the games coming into the Test series.
“During the recent Test at Headingley, I watched Ollie Pope batting in the nets, and I was pleased to see that he was standing on middle stump rather than off stump. On Friday at The Oval, we saw the benefits of that small but significant tweak. Pope was quite bullish earlier in the season about sticking to his off-stump method, and I understand why a lot of batters this summer have adopted the method,” Nasser Hussain wrote in his column for the Daily Mail on Saturday.
“By all accounts, and even from the county championship matches I’ve seen myself, there is so much movement off the seam and through the air that they’ve been trying to protect themselves on the outside edge. The trouble is that can create a problem on the inside edge, which is why Pope has been getting out lbw to the one that comes back,” he added.
This tweak in the positioning of his guard has “done him the world of good”, reckons Hussain, as Pope can now play more freely through the off-side.
The next step for Ollie Pope is to get him up the order at Surrey: Nasser Hussain
The 53-year-old sees immense potential and future in Ollie Pope, who averages 50.86 in first-class cricket, and has a sound technique and temperament to aid him.
Hussain feels the right-hander should be soon promoted higher in the order both at Surrey and in the English side.
“The next step for Pope is to get him up the order at Surrey, because there will come a moment when England need to move up from No 5. That moment isn’t here yet, but it’s strange that he has never batted above No 4 for his county. He’s too good a player for that – especially now that he looks comfortable at the crease again,” Hussain concluded.
Meanwhile, India have taken a lead in their second innings – by lunch on Day 3, the visitors are 9 runs ahead, but have lost the wicket of KL Rahul.