Ollie Pope has been called up to England’s squad for the second Test against India, with Dawid Malan dropping out after a lean run of form that has seen him reach fifty only once in his last 10 innings.
Chris Woakes also returns to replace Ben Stokes, who misses the match at Lord’s which begins on Thursday, to face a charge of affray at Bristol Crown Court. England travel to London one-nil up in the five-match series after sealing victory in the opening Test by 31 runs.
Squad: Joe Root (c), Moeen Ali, Jimmy Anderson, Jonny Bairstow (wk), Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Alastair Cook, Sam Curran, Keaton Jennings, Ollie Pope, Jamie Porter, Adil Rashid, Chris Woakes
The 20-year-old Pope is a middle-order batsman for Surrey who has enjoyed a stellar start to the 2018 season – only his second in first-class cricket. He has 684 runs in Division One of the County Championship at an average of 85.50, with three centuries (a highest of 158 not out) and one fifty. While his domestic form caught the eye, as well as regular performances in the Young Lions squads during 2016/17, the England management were struck by his maturity during the two matches he played in the North-South series in pre-season, scoring 110 runs across both innings.
On the selection, national selector Ed Smith had this to say: “Ollie Pope has made an exceptional start to his first-class career. He has reached a 1,000 first-class runs in just 15 matches and is the first division’s stand-out batsman this season with 684 runs at 85. The selection panel believe that Ollie’s performances and character suggest he is well suited to international cricket.”
Pope also scored 50 for England Lions in their four-day win against India A by 253 runs at the end of July, at New Road. Here, he batted at number five: a change from his usual position at Surrey of number six. There is a chance, given he replaces Malan, that he will slot in at number four for England. Moeen Ali is also an option for that spot. Much will depend on whether the captain Joe Root wants the extra spin threat or if England want another right-hander in their top order to counter the threat of offspinner Ravichandran Ashwin, who took seven for 121 in the first Test at Edgbaston.
As for Malan, his scores of eight and 20 in the opening match was compounded by a nightmarish time in the slips, dropping Virat Kohli on 21 and 51 in the first innings – the India skipper went on to score 149 – before also shelling Murali Vijay in the second. He was at least able to make amends with a sharp low catch to remove Dinesh Karthik six balls into the final day.
The Middlesex batsman leaves Test cricket for now with an average of 27.84 from his 15 Tests, with a notable high of an Ashes hundred on the recent tour of Australia. His 140 in the first innings of the third Test at Perth back in December 2017 (he scored 54 in the second) was one of the few highlights from a harrowing 4-0 series defeat. Unfortunately, he was unable to kick on, only managing two other fifties, the last of those coming in March against New Zealand.
“Dawid Malan drops out of the squad for Lord’s,” said Smith. “Dawid has not found his best rhythm this season, and it may be that his game is better suited to overseas conditions.”
As for Woakes, he was with the squad during the first Test, going through a full spell of bowling on the first training day at Edgbaston, before returning to the Birmingham Bears for their Twenty20 Blast campaign, taking 2 for 18 in their victory over Leicestershire and nought for 36 during a defeat to Derbyshire in consecutive days. The England management are confident that he is back to full fitness after recovering from an injury to his right knee.