Home Jersey shirt Ollie Pope feared being dropped before a top hundred for England

Ollie Pope feared being dropped before a top hundred for England

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Ollie Pope bolstered England’s faith in him with a classy cent in the second LV= Insurance Test against New Zealand but admitted he feared the worst when he received a call on last month from new coach Brendon McCullum.

Pope was delighted to put two years of indifferent form behind him, making 145 as England piled on 383 runs on day three at Trent Bridge.

With Joe Root also rolling out 163 steps out, his 27th ton and his second in a row since stepping down as captain, all three results remain on the table with the hosts 80 behind on 473 for five.

Whatever the end result, the impact this game may have on Pope may well be profound.

He was long considered the brightest English talent of his generation, but too often struggled to replicate his dominant county performances on the biggest stage. Such were his recent struggles, he was prepared for bad news when McCullum first made contact.

Instead, he received an unexpected promotion to number three.

“I was in Cornwall for a few days on the coast when I got a call from a number I didn’t recognize. It was Baz (McCullum) on the phone,” he said.

Brendon McCullum called Pope to say he was being promoted to the order (PA)

It was a move that raised eyebrows given Pope’s lack of top-notch county-level experience and his previous inability to post consistent lower scores. A double miss at Lord’s on his first attempt last week only raised the stakes, but he heeded the hunch to play a major role in Sunday’s fightback.

McCullum and captain Ben Stokes have preached positive cricket since taking over the team, a message that resonated with Pope.

“It wasn’t the easiest course last year, a few tough tours and I didn’t play a lot last summer, but I never doubted my game for Test cricket. I feel like I learned a lot about my game and a lot about test cricket and hopefully now I can move on and use that as a kind of starting point with this bank of knowledge that I acquired.

“Cooky (former captain Sir Alastair Cook) told Stokesy in the dressing room last week that he tries to find enjoyment every day he puts on an England shirt and we really feel that as a group at the moment.

“It allowed me to play my game and gave me a little more confidence. I’ve started to see everything in a bit more of a positive light because that’s what I do for Surrey and that’s what has brought me a lot of success. It’s something I’ve really enjoyed so far.

Pope’s gleeful reaction to reach triple figures was matched only by Root at the other end, with the Yorkshireman sprinting to embrace his partner in a bear hug and later knocking him off the field.

“I don’t think I’ve ever been hugged like this, but it means so much when your teammates are this excited – especially a guy like Joe Root – it’s a great attribute to have.”