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  • Writer's pictureSoumyajit Dutta

ENG Vs NZ 2022: Ollie Pope learns on the job from England’s: X Captain Joe Root

ENG Vs NZ 2022: After achieving his second Test century, and first on home soil, in the second Test against New Zealand at Trent Bridge, Ollie Pope expressed his "relief," saying that he believed his 145-run innings would be the start of a more consistent time of run-scoring for England after a difficult 18 months - For more updates keep following 99Runs

He also paid respect to Joe Root, his partner during a 187-run partnership that helped England respond to New Zealand's intimidating first-innings total of 553.

Ollie Pope learns on the job from England’s: X Captain Joe Root

When Root reached the milestone shortly after lunch, he quickly embraced Pope before going on to score a breezy century of his own - his second in as many innings, fourth of the year, and tenth since January 2021, prompting Pope to call him "England's greatest-ever" batsman.

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Pope was restored to the side last week at Lord's after being dropped during the 2021-22 Ashes, and he was also pushed up the order to No. 3 - a position he had never batted in first-class cricket before. His century was his second in Tests, and his first since January 2020, over four years after he made his Test debut.

"Over the last year or so, it hasn't been the easiest ride," Pope added. "I didn't play a lot last summer due to a couple difficult tours. It was a relief after I got over the line, but I was just so delighted.

You have to appreciate such moments, which is something I've learned in the last year or so.

"I've tried to get into the mindset of not looking too far ahead or behind whatever good cricket I'm playing."

We have a proverb around here that says, "Play where your feet are."

You don't want to spend too much time looking at the big picture since it won't help you in the middle.

"At the same time, playing 25 Tests is a fantastic honour, but I want to be performing more consistently than I have in the last year or two."

Ollie Pope learns on the job from England’s: X Captain Joe Root

But I also feel like I've learned a lot about my game and Test cricket, and I'm hoping to use this as a starting point with the knowledge I've already accumulated."

Pope claimed that England's new Test captain, Ben Stokes, and coach, Brendon McCullum, had helped him relax by emphasising the importance of enjoying the game.

He was twice dismissed cheaply at Lord's and survived being dropped on 41 on the second evening in Nottingham, but he kept looking for scoring opportunities throughout his innings, which culminated with a top-edged pluck to deep backward square - a stroke that had previously brought him six.

"I believe that's helped me to play my game and give me a little more confidence, and start seeing everything in a little bit more positive light, in the Test arena, because that's what I do for Surrey and that's what has brought me a lot of success," he said.

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England's aggression, first during a 141-run stand between Pope and Alex Lees - who scored his first Test half-century - and then during the third-wicket partnership between Pope and Root, meant they piled on 383 runs in 88 overs on day three, a run rate of 4.35 that perfectly reflected the Stokes-McCullum mantra and allowed them to put pressure back on New Zealand with two days left in the game.

When questioned about the experience of batting alongside Root, Pope responded, "We're seeing England's greatest ever."

Ollie Pope learns on the job from England’s: X Captain Joe Root

"I'm not trying to copy what he does, but I'm trying to learn as much as I can from him."

Whether it's him tossing balls at you for 20 minutes at the end of the session, which he'll gladly do, and if he sees something - even from a mindset standpoint, I'm trying to pick his brains as much as I can, especially while he's on such a roll.

"I can truly learn from the unrelenting intensity of what he's doing."

He cares as much about his teammates' success as he does about his own, which is fantastic quality."

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