Lloyd Pope is six-foot tall and wanted to be a fast bowler. But on his father’s advice, took to leg-spin. His 8 for 35 against England in the quarterfinals proves that he is on the right path.
The wrong ’un
Four of leg-spinner Pope’s eight wickets against England were courtesy the wrong ’un, the delivery that spins back into the right-handed batsman. England captain Harry Brook had just seen opener Liam Banks stumped after he looked for the big drive to a tossed-up leg break. Brook, who had been going along nicely in this Under-19 World Cup and had not been dismissed, saw another tossed-up ball but failed to read the googly. He had extended himself to play the drive but the ball sneaked in and crashed into the stumps.
Comparisons with Warne
Comparisons with leg-spin legend Shane Warne were made after Pope’s 8 for 35 in 57 balls in the low-scoring game. Warne’s 4 for 29 against South Africa, when Australia were defending 213 in the semifinal of the 1999 World Cup, was immediately recalled after Pope’s eight wickets helped his team defend 127.
‘Pennywise’ to batsmen
The Adelaide teenager is known as the wizard for the flowing red locks and ability to bowl a deceptive googly. He has a more amusing pet name — Pennywise — because of his resemblance to the main antagonist in Stephen King’s novel IT.
Watchers of domestic cricket in Australia won’t ask the question ‘Pope Who?’ The 18-year-old has been a steady riser who made an impression the first time he bowled leg-spin — taking six wickets when he first turned out for North Queensland. In two years, in 2016 and 2018, he finished with 54 wickets, including in matches at the under-17 and under-19 levels. Against Sri Lanka Under-19s last year, he took 15 wickets in 5 games. He has a contract with South Australia.