England’s latest Test cricketer Ollie Pope is seeking inspirations from the legendary Sachin Tendulkar as he prepares for what may be his Test debut on Thursday. The 20-year old has replaced Dawid Malan in the England squad for the second England vs India Test.
The England selectors sprung a big surprise by handing Pope his maiden Test call. The 20-year old earned the call after his excellent form for Surrey. He has scored 684 runs at an average of 85.50 which includes three centuries and a top score of 158 this season. He also made an unbeaten half-century for England Lions in their victory against India A ahead of the first Test.
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But his experience is something that has made many ponder whether he has been fast-tracked into the Test side. The right-handed batsman made his first-class debut for Surrey in August 2017 and has played only 15 games so far. But Pope is confident his age would not affect him as he prepares for the match in which he is more than likely to make his debut.
What would further boost his confidence are Sachin Tendulkar’s words. The legendary batsman, who made his India debut at the tender age of 16, said that age does not matter if the individual is talented.
“If somebody is good, he should play for the country and age shouldn’t be the criteria,” Tendulkar told ESPNcricinfo.
“You only see one side of the coin as you are young and fearless but with experience and maturity, you start seeing the other side as well to balance things out. That is the age when you don’t see anything and just want to do well. There are going to be tough moments but that’s what you play for,” he had added.
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And now Pope is all inspired and ready to step into the bigger world.
“Everyone always says – if you’re good enough, you’re old enough,” said Pope in his press conference on Tuesday. “It’s nice hearing those stories. Just knowing I’m not one of the first ones to play when I’m young or after not a huge amount of games. Hearing those stories are pretty inspiration – they make you realize what you can do.
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“I think I’ve had a good season so far, and from the people I’ve spoken to, they’ve given me the confidence in my own game to take the next step. You hear stories of the greats of the game, people like [Alastair] Cook made his debut (at 21). Hopefully I take my chance. I feel confident in my game and ready for the next step.”
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Pope’s nerves will also settle down due to the presence of his Surrey teammate Sam Curran. 20-year old Curran starred for England in the first Test. In just his second Test, the left-handed all-rounder put in a player-of-the-match performance with match figures of 5 for 92 and, crucially, a second-innings 63 that eventually decided the game.
“Obviously I played with him (Curran) since we were 14 or 15, as soon as he came over from Zimbabwe. We have gone through the same path and the way he played last week gives me confidence to know I can do that too. It’s nice to do it with him,” he said.
“I think I’m probably similar to him – just ready to put the shirt on and just want to perform at my best. We’ve both played a fair bit of county cricket now and things have gone on an upward spiral. But yeah, completely – looking back on people like him (Sachin Tendulkar), what was he, 16, 17? He’s quite a good person to listen to in terms of that. I think it’s the fearlessness. Hopefully we can play and express ourselves the way we want to,” he added.