U19 World Cup

Pope ready to take on the world

Red-headed leg-spinner poised to bamboozle the best at the Under-19s World Cup

Nick Duxson

13 January 2018, 06:00 AM AEST

Few cricketers - if any - have dominated Australia’s underage championships to the extent Lloyd Pope has.

And the 18-year-old leg-spinner now gets his chance to take on the world, starting with India on Sunday if selected, as Australia Under 19s chase glory at the 2018 ICC Under 19 Cricket World Cup.

Pope, from South Australia, has proven at times unplayable for Australia’s best young players.

Across his three underage tournaments in the past two summers - one at under-17 level and two at under-19 level - Pope has claimed 54 wickets at an average of 16.1, from just 23 matches.

Plus 15 wickets in five matches for Australia in an under-19 series against Sri Lanka in April last year.

Pope's Sunday service puts Sri Lanka in purgatory

It could be why the young man with the bag of tricks has earned the nickname ‘Wizard’ from his teammates, his ability to produce magic with the ball regularly.

But the first-year West End Redbacks rookie admits there’s a few little nerves - albeit plenty of confidence - heading into the ICC’s pinnacle underage event.

“The last couple of nights have been a bit sleepless, tossing and turning, wondering how I’m going to go,” Pope said.

“It’s a bit of unreal experience … I’m looking forward to it.

Pope pitches in with three wickets ... again

“I’d like to take a few wickets really, (but) I’m not really looking at it from a personal point of view. I hope that the team can go deep into the tournament and hopefully we can take away the trophy.”

Australia’s campaign starts with a day-nighter against India in Tauranga, followed by games against Zimbabwe and Papua New Guinea in Christchurch.

“To play against a really strong opposition in India (first up) is going to be exciting,” Pope said. 

“It’s going to be a test for all the boys, but I think we’re really up for it.

“Obviously there’s rumour going around that they’re pretty good players of spin, obviously they play a lot of spin in the sub-continent as well.

“I’m just looking forward to the challenge really.”

The challenge is one Pope is confident he - and his team - are up for over the next couple of weeks.

“We’ve got a great group of guys, everyone’s gelling really well together,” he said. 

“We’re all in really good form, and as a unit I think  we’re looking really, really strong.

“We’ve got a real belief that we can go deep in this World Cup, and even win it.”

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