Ollie Pope is enjoying his new role as England’s number three and believes he has done enough to make it his permanent job.
The new England team of Test executives, made up of captain Ben Stokes and coach Brendon McCullum, promoted the 24-year-old to third place ahead of the series with New Zealand in June, and Pope announced his arrival with a second ton. test at Trent Bridge.
The Surrey right-footer hopes to replicate his success when the team starts the decisive game with South Africa on Thursday, but believes his probationary period may already be over.
“I’d like to think so,” Pope said. “We don’t talk too much about these things, but the feedback I’ve received has been great and I think the trust given from above by McCullum and Stokes has been fantastic too, so I hope it can continue to help me build there and I’m going to this with a slightly better mentality.
“I’m not looking too far ahead, I’m just trying to focus on every ball and every inning as it comes. It’s a bit of a cliché, but I think that’s what I realized this summer. It works fine for me. Rather than playing a game two months away, worry about the here and now, and that’s probably the best thing to do as a cricketer, or any other sport actually. “
England will be without Jonny Bairstow when the series resumes after a strange lower leg injury sustained by slipping off a tee while playing golf left him out of contention.
Pope said, “Of course we will miss him, but at the same time we have enough guys who have been around for a long time now to feed each other, and the energy has been so good around the guys.
“I’m sure we’ll mostly make up for his lost voice on the pitch, but obviously it’s gutted that he’s not here, because it would be a great way for him to finish the next summer (the way he) played.
“Obviously it’s disappointing for all of us, obviously a weird accident happened, and he had a great summer, it was great to watch, it was great to be with the guys but it also offers a great opportunity for whoever is coming, so this too. it’s an exciting opportunity. “
That chance seems almost certain to be given to Harry Brook of Yorkshire, Pope’s teammate at England U19 level, a team that Brook once captained.
An unexpected test debut for the 23-year-old, who landed his first T20 senior appearance in January against the West Indies, is something Pope believes Brook is more than ready to handle.
He added: “He is a really good player. Obviously he has been in ridiculous form this season, he averages over 100 league odds and has 100% of having the game to go out and take him into Test cricket. He also has the mentality.
“It impresses me at how cold he is in the way he approaches his training and how he tackles his cricket, and assuming he gets the nod this week, he won’t upset him too much and I’m sure he’ll go out and play to the best of his ability. “.