Having not played for Surrey in 2020, Ollie Pope is determined to make up for lost time. He’s set about that in the best possible fashion with a mammoth 245 against Leicestershire this week.
Pope’s appearance in the LV= County Championship defeat against Gloucestershire last week was his first in Three Feathers since 2019 although he had made three figures in a friendly against Middlesex a week earlier.
While he didn’t make too much impact on the scorecard in Bristol, he has certainly capitalised on idyllic batting conditions at The Kia Oval on the second and third days in South London.
Coming to the crease at 83/2 and seeing his captain go with Surrey on 93/3, there was a big job on to compete with Leicestershire’s 375 first innings total. He, Ben Foakes and Jamie Smith did that and then some. The partnership between Pope and Foakes registered 229 runs before he and Smith put on another 234 for the fifth wicket stand.
His first century came up in double quick time after just 123 balls, made to look even quicker when compared to the run rate Leicestershire had gone at in the first four sessions.
The boundaries in Ollie Pope’s 10th first-class century. pic.twitter.com/dhvZPYszKe
— Surrey Cricket (@surreycricket) April 17, 2021
When he was eventually stumped for 245, he had faced 272 balls and been at the crease for a total of 484 minutes. The stand out figure when looking at the scorecard though would be his 30 fours and zero sixes. In truth, the ball was rarely off the floor at any stage in the innings.
With Leicestershire seeking the formula to break the partnerships, they tried a number of different tactics. One of those included a period of short bowling with a heavy leg side field but even that couldn’t stop our Academy graduate. Rolling his wrists and getting above the climbing ball, pulls and hooks raced across the famously quick Kia Oval outfield to the boundary rope.
Either side of that period, there was the classic Pope innings of front foot drives, cuts, sweeps and reverse sweeps making for a very pretty and complete looking wagon wheel in any scorebook.
While he did fall six runs short of his first-class best, recorded during a 266 partnership with Jamie Smith in the 2019 Champion County match in Dubai, this innings is still one that has set Pope’s 2021 season off to a flying start.
It’s another six weeks until England begin their Test summer. In the meantime, Ollie Pope will bat and bat in the brown helmet and Three Feathers of Surrey.