LONDON: Making his Test recall count with a diligent half-century at his home ground, England middle-order batsman Ollie Pope said he has learnt to shut the “noise” by trusting the right people.
The 23-year-old, who scored his maiden hundred in South Africa in January 2020, has struggled to convert his starts this year.
His best score before Friday’s 81-run knock was a 34 in Chennai against India in February.
Pope, who was benched during the first three Tests, returned to the playing XI in place of wicketkeeper batsman Jos Buttler who took a break to be with his wife during the birth of his second child.
Pope did not let the opportunity go to waste and stitched two crucial fifty-plus partnerships with Jonny Bairstow and Moeen Ali to take England to 290 all out from being 62/5.
“It’s tough, I felt it was frustrating at times. It’s been a learning curve to be honest. I have learnt how to deal with the noise, the off the pitch kind of thing, and I want to be as confident in my own game as I can,” Pope told reporters after day two’s play.
“You’ve got to listen to the people you trust and the people you know you’re getting the best advice from. There is a lot of noise as players, which is always going to come with playing for England so it’s about trying to listen to the right people and the people you trust best.”
Reflecting on his dislocated shoulder in the third Test against Pakistan in August 2020 that kept him out the remainder of the year, he said “It’s been a stop-start career so far. I made my debut back probably nearly four years ago; I’ve been in and out and had shoulder operations.”
“Reminds you to do everything possible to stay in the park firstly, for the last thing you want to do is give someone your spot,” Pope said.
Pope, who averages 101.8 in 19 innings at The Oval for Surrey, rued missing out on a “dream” century.
“It’s my first Test at my home ground and a really special occasion for me. I would have loved to get over the line. You dream about getting a hundred in front of a packed house at your home ground.
“Hopefully I’ll have some more opportunities in the future but for now I’m happy to contribute to putting the side in a decent position,” he said.
Having struggled with a middle and off guard earlier, Pope made a subtle change in the middle by watching his skipper Joe Root play.
“To be honest, I watched the way Rooty has played this series and how he’s gone about it. There’s been some good conversations with coaches and senior players as well and I’ve recognised this Indian attack is very skilled.
“As a batter, you’re going to get out somehow whether the team is attacking the fifth stump or on the knee roll. I recognised that you’ve got to adapt your game accordingly. That’s what I’ve done; probably decided a couple of weeks ago that that was how I was going to go about my business,” he said.
“You’ve got to adapt your game accordingly so I probably decided a couple of weeks ago that’s how I’m going to go about my business,” he said off his 159-ball knock.