Ollie Pope has set his sights on becoming one of the world’s leading batsmen and is taking his cues from the best in the business.
Pope is just five matches into his international career but is being tipped as the most promising young player to emerge from county cricket since his England captain, Yorkshire’s Joe Root.
The 22-year-old boasts a towering first-class average of 58.06 and is beginning to find his feet at international level, with half-centuries in two of his last three innings heading into tomorrow’s third Test against South Africa.
Those who have watched him closely at Surrey expect Pope to become a cornerstone of the side and he does not shy away from the expectation.
Instead, he has made a point of watching and learning from the most dominant players of the current generation – Steve Smith and Virat Kohli.
Reflecting on the impressive 61 not out he made last week in Cape Town and how he managed the lower order, Pope said: “The way I went about my innings was just remembering how some of the best players in the world have done it.
You ask any young batsman coming into the game, 100 per cent they are the guys you want to be like – and Rooty.Ollie Pope
“I remember watching Smith and Kohli from when they played against England and how, even when they were nine down, they were trying to face almost every ball.
“You ask any young batsman coming into the game, 100 per cent they are the guys you want to be like – and Rooty.
“They have been the main run-scorers in international cricket over the last however many years and hopefully I’ve got the game that I can start building towards that, get some big scores and follow in some of their footsteps.
“I wouldn’t say I tried to copy their techniques at all because they all play completely differently but the one thing they’ve all got in common is having those solid foundations and they can build their game around that. That’s what I’m trying to do as well, just nailing those basics and nailing the technique. Hopefully, if I keep doing the right things, the big scores will follow.”
By publicly aiming so high, Pope shows the kind of self-belief not all newcomers feel able to tap into when they make the step up. He insists that has not always been the case.
“The first time I was picked I felt like it was almost a bit of a lottery,” he said. “I was thinking ‘hopefully I’ll get a score but if I miss out then so be it’. Over the last year or so I’ve got a lot of confidence. At the moment I feel like I’m in a good place.”