JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Dukes date delayed as Pope gets a grip
Teenage leg-spin sensation likely to miss upcoming Shield clash as he re-adjusts back to long-form cricket
22 February 2019, 04:53 PM AEST
Rookie leg spinner Lloyd Pope is struggling to recalibrate his bowling action after making adjustments for 20-over cricket, and seems certain to be overlooked for South Australia's JLT Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania starting tomorrow.
Pope, who made a name during last year's under-19 World Cup and claimed 7-87 in just his second Shield appearance earlier this summer, has also reported some difficulty in adjusting to the vagaries of the Dukes ball that will be used in the second half of the Shield season.
As a consequence, West End Redbacks coach Jamie Siddons indicated that SA are likely to take a four-pronged pace attack into the upcoming match at Adelaide Oval with captain Travis Head likely to play the role of principal spinner.
And while the potential threat posed by Chadd Sayers, Joe Mennie, Nick Winter and Cameron Valente with the swing-friendly Dukes ball has partly influenced that thinking, Siddons admits the decisive factor has been doubts over Pope's readiness.
"Popey's … struggling to find a way with the Dukes," Siddons said today in Adelaide, where temperatures are forecast to hover in the mid-to-high 30s throughout the Shield fixture.
"He hasn't (previously) had one in his hand, and he's had a slight change of action throughout the Big Bash, trying to bowl a bit quicker.
"It would be a big ask for him to go out there in a game, so we'll probably look at four quicks."
Pope, 19, played six games for the Sydney Sixers in his maiden KFC Big Bash League season, in which he claimed just two wickets and returned an economy rate of 8.5 runs per over.
Since returning to red-ball training with SA, however, the teenage spinner has oscillated between the faster, flatter bowling method employed in the short format and the more traditional long-form technique he took into his first few Shield games.
As Siddons noted, the success generated by Afghanistan's Rashid Khan (who also plays for Adelaide Strikers in the BBL) has seen other leg spinners trying to replicate his fast arm action and numerous variations, which have carried him to the top of the global T20I bowlers' rankings.
"Everyone's trying to do that in Twenty20, and I think it will be effective on our (Adelaide Oval) pitch," Siddons said of Pope's shift to bowling faster and adjusting to the England-manufactured Dukes ball.
"But he's just got to start getting it right with the red ball which feels different in his hand.
"He did say something about drift, and it moves a little bit more in the air.
"But that could be the fact that he's bowling a bit quicker, and putting a bit more work on the ball.
"It (the Dukes) is also a little bit smaller, so it feels a bit different in his hand.
"it's a big adjustment, a different ball for a leggie - it's hard enough when you play with the same one the whole time."
Pope trialled the new, quicker version of his bowling action during centre-wicket training for the Redbacks this week, as he also experimented with a combination of old and new approaches.
And while Siddons claimed the faster model "looked really good", he acknowledged it would be tough to ask the 19-year-old to try it out under match conditions given the battles he has already encountered after the stellar start to his first-class career.
Following his heady success against Queensland last October, Pope failed to take a wicket in his next two Shield games and was overlooked for selection in the final two matches prior to the competition's mid-summer hiatus.
"We'd love to play him, but we're probably putting our faith in the four quicks," Siddons said today.
That faith is partially fuelled by the return of Test-capped seamer Chadd Sayers after knee surgery, and left-armer Nick Winter's remarkable record with the Dukes ball in his rookie Shield season last summer.
Siddons said Sayers had shown impressive form during an extensive training hit-out last weekend, while Winter reaffirmed his potency with Dukes ball in hand by snaring 8-58 and 3-74 in a Toyota Futures League game against Queensland earlier this month.
It follows the Canberra-born swing bowler's return of 34 wickets at an average of 19.71 from just five Shield matches in the second half of last summer, a feat that Siddons today described admiringly as "ridiculous".
"He's excited, he's swinging it a lot so we'll see what happens," Siddons said.
"The opposition will definitely be prepared for him a little bit better than they were last year, so he's going to have to work for them (wickets).
"But we definitely think it will swing the whole time, so all of our quicks will have a part to play."