Pope learning from Watling, Root double hundreds in New Zealand

By Sports Desk December 21, 2019

Ollie Pope is hoping lessons learned from watching New Zealand's BJ Watling and England captain Joe Root will provide him with a platform heading into the Test series against South Africa.

Pope scored 132 from 145 deliveries in England's first innings against South Africa A, in the visitors' final warm-up match ahead of the first Test, which starts on Boxing Day.

The 21-year-old, who hit 75 in England's second Test against New Zealand in Hamilton, says taking tips from Root – who scored 226 in that match – and Watling, who amassed 205 in the first game of the series, has helped him adapt his style.

"In New Zealand the wickets were good value, fairly slow. Watching the way BJ Watling went about his stuff and Rooty when he got his double hundred," Pope told Sky Sports.

"You can almost be really specific and wait for the ball to get right in your area. The way I got out in the first Test was with right shots, I got a bit greedy.

"You don’t need to take those risks. If I keep batting time, face as many balls as I can, hopefully the rewards will come.

"It's nice [to start the tour with 100]. It's nice to get some time in the middle. I felt good out there, going into the Tests knowing that I’ve got used to the wickets a little bit, adapted my game a little bit. Hopefully I can take that into the first Test."

England's squad has been struck by an illness, meaning Jofra Archer, Stuart Broad and Jack Leach have so far been unable to feature in the warm-up games, while Joe Denly revealed he had been suffering from "flu-ey" symptoms.

Fortunately for England, Archer, Broad and Leach trained on Saturday, and Pope is hopeful the visitors will be able to call on a full complement of players for the first Test at Centurion.

"The boys have been training this afternoon and they're getting back to it now," Pope said.

"It's been a bit of a strange start to the tour with everyone being injured or ill.

"This was supposed to be a first-class game but it ended up not being because we didn't have the seamers to put out."

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