England captain Ben Stokes didn’t mince words when describing Ollie Pope and his match-rescuing performance in India last week .
“The greatest innings that has ever been played in the subcontinent by an English batsman,” said the skipper.
Pope’s star-turning performance was yet another significant milestone in the Chelsea-born prodigy’s rise.
Having worked his way through the youth ranks at Surrey, Pope made his test debut against India in 2018 aged just 21.
On his only previous test tour of India, in 2021, Pope failed to score more than 34 in eight innings and many predicted, three years on, that he would struggle again as England prepared to face an Indian side away for the first time since the ‘Bazball’ revolution.
However, what followed was an innings which ensured a memorable victory for England and is already being dubbed as the ‘Heist of Hyderabad’.
On Friday, he will take to the field again as vice-captain as England seek a further test win to take a step closer to being the first away team to win a series in India in over a decade.
And South West London can certainly lay claim to Pope, with his Surrey allegiance stretching back to the U13s age group.
In 2016, he signed his first professional deal with the club, making his first-class debut a year later.
He won the county’s young player of the year in 2018, and by 2019 was the club’s highest red-ball run-scorer, averaging a remarkable 101.
His Surrey appearances have been somewhat limited since, thanks to England commitments, but when back at his county he has been a key part of a squad that has dominated the longer form of the domestic game in recent years.
Surrey’s grassroots clubs have also played a part in his development, with Pope representing both Cranleigh and Guildford Cricket Clubs in his youth.
Whilst Pope’s swift rise from school to international cricket seemed rushed at the time, taking just two years, now England are cashing in on his years of potential.
The second test against India, held at Dr. Y.S. Rajasekhara Reddy ACA-VDCA Cricket Stadium in Visakhapatnam, starts at 4am GMT on Friday.