Thursday 23 January 2020

Pressure won't get to Pope

Ollie Pope does not turn 22 until Thursday but finds finds himself freighted with huge expectations (stock photo)
Ollie Pope does not turn 22 until Thursday but finds finds himself freighted with huge expectations (stock photo)

Jamie Turner

Ollie Pope is finally coming to terms with being billed as English cricket's 'next big thing', not least since the national side's social media team joined the bandwagon.

Pope looks certain to return for the New Year clash in Cape Town on Friday after missing the first Test defeat to South Africa due to the illness which has run through the camp over the past fortnight.

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The Surrey batsman does not turn 22 until Thursday but finds finds himself freighted with huge expectations.

An average of 27.33 and a top score of 75 from his four Tests to date may not indicate anything special but those who have seen him at close quarters routinely speak of him as a once-in-a-generation talent.

After reeling off a dominant 132 in the recent tour match against South Africa A, England Cricket's official Facebook page posted a picture of him in full flow with the caption "Is Pope our next big thing?".

He insists he does not feel overburdened by such heady labels.

"England posted something with a comment like that a few weeks ago and I remember flicking through a few comments saying 'how can you put him under that pressure?'," he said.

"But I don't think there's any more pressure than playing Test cricket. "If you asked me when I first got picked, I probably would (have been affected), but I've gained the confidence in myself and my game.

"If people say that, you enjoy it. It's nice to read, it's only a compliment, but there's no need to put myself under any more pressure."

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