Here, Press Association Sport tracks what is known to date about the rising star from Surrey.
MADE IN CHELSEA
Pope has made his name at The Oval but was born just across the county border in Chelsea. If he gets the nod at Lord’s, he ought therefore still feel on familiar ground at the home of Middlesex – and cricket.
It is less than 18 months since he made his first-class debut, for Surrey against Oxford MCC University in The Parks – as a wicketkeeper at number seven, from where he made a near run-a-ball 38 in his first innings of a drawn fixture. In his first professional match, in August 2016, he helped Surrey reach a Lord’s final in the Royal London Cup – showing no nerves, by making 20 in a 19-run semi-final win over Yorkshire at Headingley.
Such has been the speed of Pope’s progress on the rails, sports databases are still playing catch-up on their biography pages. Before his call-up on Sunday morning, a mere 2,000 Twitter followers – and a few more on Instagram – were keeping up to date with his news. Photographs of him are in short supply too, so there may just be some double-takes from stewards at the Grace Gates when he tries to pass himself off as an England cricketer on arrival for nets at Lord’s.
ANOTHER GRADUATE OF SURREY’S YOUTH SET-UP
Pope will be joining up again with his Surrey friend, long-time age-group team-mate, and fellow 20-year-old, Sam Curran. There will be echoes too of his first County Championship match, less than a year ago in late August last summer when – for the first time for any club since the Second World War – he was one of four teenagers in the home line-up against Middlesex at The Oval.
Curran, 152 days younger, was one of the others alongside Amar Virdi and Ryan Patel. Ben Foakes took the gloves and also made 73, batting one position above Pope. He has long been in the reckoning for a Test debut too, and was in England’s Ashes squad last winter, but at the age of 25 it seems the ex-Essex wicketkeeper is about to see Pope get there before him.
Youth is no barrier to international experience these days, and Pope made sure he took his opportunity when he flew Down Under last winter to play Grade cricket for Campbelltown-Camden in Sydney. While England were losing the Ashes 4-0, he set about scoring plenty of runs – finishing just three short of 1,000 in 23 matches.
The Pakistan batting great believes the PSL has changed the landscape of Pakistan cricket in recent times.
“I believe that the rise of the younger players has a lot to do with the PSL. We always knew that countries with their own T20 leagues such as India, where the players were getting a great opportunity to play alongside top players, were doing well at the international level,” Misbah said in an interview with PakPassion.net.
“On top of that, the gap between normal domestic cricket and the international level was too huge and that problem needed to be addressed properly. Thankfully, with three years of the PSL tournament now under our belts, we can see the difference in the way the Pakistani youngsters are performing in a confident manner and adapting so well at the international level,” the 44-year-old added.
While crediting the PSL for the emergence of the youngsters, Misbah also praised head coach Mickey Arthur for taking some hard decisions for the betterment of the team.
“I think Mickey Arthur has done an excellent job in creating a side with so many youngsters settling in well into a team where there is a great emphasis on a culture of discipline and where fitness is an important factor as well. Along the way, he has had to take some hard decisions and looking at the recent results, they are all paying off for the benefit of Pakistan cricket,” Misbah stated.
The former Pakistan skipper scored over 5, 000 runs in 75 Tests appearances for his country before calling time on his international career in 2017. He continues to take part in the PSL and led his side Islamabad United to the title in the 2018 edition.
Among them was pacer Ishant Sharma’s magnificent performance in the second innings.
The 29-year-old picked up his eighth five-wicket haul in Test cricket, with his figures of 5-51 helping India bowl out the hosts for 183 in their second dig.
In the end, Ishant was reprimanded for his send-off to Dawid Malan and docked 15 per cent of his match fees along with being awarded a demerit point for his misdemeanour.
For so long in his 83-match Test career, Ishant has been known as an ‘unlucky’ bowler who can bowl some devastating spells without picking up a wicket.
At Edgbaston, his perseverance was rewarded in the form of six wickets overall and the India pacer could not be more happy.
“Actually, I got tired of the tag. I am bowling well but my wicket column has always not been very good. It feels very good because I put in a lot of work. Playing for your country and taking five wickets, that too in the second innings, feels nice,” the pacer stated.
The Delhi man has credited his stint with county outfit Sussex this summer – after he missed out on an Indian Premier League (IPL) contract – as a key reason for his Edgbaston display.
“Playing County made a huge difference. In a way, I was disappointed (not playing IPL 2018), but it was good for me. I played for Sussex and bowled with the Dukes ball. One good thing was although I only played four matches, there were overs behind me, I bowled around 150-200 overs. I played one-dayers also, so the experience was really good,” Ishant explained.
Ishant’s five-wicket haul at Edgbaston was his seventh such instance in overseas Tests for India. He will now be hoping to repeat his 2014 heroics at Lord’s as the ‘home of cricket’ gets ready to host the second Test between England and India starting August 9.
Ishant’s best-ever Test figures of 7-74 had come at Lord’s in the tour of 2014 as India scripted a historic 95-run win.