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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 20 August 2018

Sam Curran's example inspires England new boy Ollie Pope

Middle-order batsman, primed for Test debut at age 20, hopes to emulate Surrey county teammate at Lord's this week

Barring an unexpected tactical switch, Ollie Pope will line up at No 4 at Lord's despite regularly batting two places lower for Surrey. Reuters
Barring an unexpected tactical switch, Ollie Pope will line up at No 4 at Lord's despite regularly batting two places lower for Surrey. Reuters

India will be up against another fearless 20-year-old cricketer this week, with Ollie Pope primed to make his Test debut for England at Lord's on Thursday.

Only last week, Sam Curran had stunned the world's No 1 Test team with a match-total five wickets and 87 runs at Edgbaston to help England to a 31-run win. Curran, playing in only his second Test, was named man of the match for his efforts as the hosts took a 1-0 series lead.

It is why Pope, who was called into the squad for the second Test in place of the dropped Dawid Malan, hopes to follow in the footsteps of his Surrey teammate when he thrown in at the deep end at Lord's.

The top-order batsman, who has played just 15 first-class matches, would love the chance to prove in London, as Curran did in Birmingham, the old adage that 'if you're good enough you're old enough' right.

"The way he [Curran] played last week can give me confidence to know I can do it," Pope said on Tuesday.

"I've played with him since we were 14 or 15 - as soon as he came over from Zimbabwe - and we've gone through the same path.

"I've had a good season so far. I have confidence in my own game to take the next step. You hear stories of some of the greats of the game, people like Alastair Cook. I think he was 20 when he made his debut, so it's not like it hasn't been done before."

Pope has been in brilliant form for County Championship leaders Surrey this season, scoring 684 runs at a huge average of 85.50, including three centuries and a top score of 158 not out.

He also made an unbeaten fifty for the second-string England Lions in a 253-run win over India A in a first-class fixture at Worcester last month.

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But if England decide to bat Pope in Malan's No 4 position, when the second Test starts on Thursday, he will be two places up the order from the number six berth he usually occupies at Surrey.

Pope, asked if he would be ready to bat at No 4, replied: "If required, yes. Especially against this India side, where they bowl a lot of spin.

"It's not massively different. When I bat at six sometimes I've been in the 10th over, other times I'm in for the second new ball," he added.

"In the four to six region I don't think there's a massive difference in the way you play."

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