Shane Warne has lauded a next-generation Australian legspinner who staved off imminent defeat at the under-19 cricket World Cup.
Lloyd Pope’s 8-35 spell helped the Aussies to defend 127 against England in New Zealand and earn a semi-final berth.
The 18-year-old South Australian’s figures were the best in the tournament’s history and quickly caught the eye of world cricket’s greatest leggie.
“This is terrific and brings a huge smile to my face,” Warne tweeted.
“I had the pleasure of meeting this impressive young man in Adelaide a while ago.
“Lloyd give it a rip … spin to win my friend.”
Well bowled young man ! Enjoy the moment & congrats again 👍 https://t.co/4OJuhfb9kG
— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) January 23, 2018
Resembling Warne’s match-winning spell against South Africa in the World Cup semi-final in 1999, Pope was called on early to resurrect Australia’s hopes.
Cricket’s latest cult hero halted England’s run-a-ball start by snaring two of England’s leading batsmen in successive balls, before removing a sweeping Tom Banton for 58.
He then cleaned up the tail to leave England all out for 96 — their second-lowest total in the tournament’s 30-year history.
“I like putting myself in pressure scenarios, I feel like I bowl better under pressure,” Pope said after the game.
“This is by far the best bowling I’ve ever done (in any competition) and to do it for my country is pretty awesome, really.”
While outstanding, the performance is hardly a fluke.
Pope was the leading wicket taker at both the under-17 and under-19 national championships and is on a rookie contract with South Australia.
But he quickly played down any resemblance to Warne, who retired when Pope was just seven.
“He’s a huge influence on cricket and my bowling…(but) I tend not to compare myself to him,” he said.
Lloyd Pope puts England in a spin
“It’s a learning tool for me, watching him bowl in Test cricket, and I’d really like to get my red ball cricket up to where he was or just below.”
Besides bringing the under-19 World Cup trophy back to Australia, the Adelaide grade cricketer says his next aim is getting more time in the game’s longer formats.
The dream still remains a baggy green but he isn’t getting ahead of himself.
“I’ve still got work to do.”
The under-19 World Cup semi-final stage begins on Saturday.