People think Ollie Pope’s a wicketkeeper, but Ollie Pope is not a wicketkeeper, but oh wait, turns out he is a wicketkeeper… for England

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The plot of The Terminator is that the machines send a cyborg back in time to kill Sarah Connor and the humans send Kyle Reese to stop it. The whole fate of humanity relies on Reese doing the job.

That’s the plan for saving the species. The whole plan is Kyle Reese turning up naked and stopping a near-indestructible literal killing machine. There isn’t even the kind of tokenistic Plan B you sometimes come up with in half a picosecond so that you can kid yourself you’re planning for all eventualities. Kyle Reese stops the Terminator or humanity becomes extinct.

Ed Smith and his selectorial cronies didn’t go to this extreme when selecting wicketkeepers for the New Zealand tour. They did the tokenistic Plan B thing instead. ‘Jos Buttler’s the wicketkeeper,’ they said, ‘and if Jos is injured, we’ll use Ollie Pope, because he’s also a wicketkeeper.’

No-one really bothered scrutinising that a great deal at the time, because there were only two Tests and Buttler was never going to get injured, so it didn’t really matter.

But then Jos Buttler – who very rarely keeps wicket himself – suddenly had to keep wicket for 201 overs in the first Test and entirely coincidentally suffered a back spasm a few days later.

Maybe by the time you read this he’ll have recovered. Or maybe Ollie Pope will be behind the sticks.

Back when we were thinking about some of the England team selection talking points ahead of this series, we took a look at Ollie Pope’s wicketkeeping stats and turns out he’s never stumped anyone.

When you’re discussing who’s actually a wicketkeeper and who’s a batsman who’s kept wicket a handful of times, one of the measures you could use is whether or not that person has ever stumped anyone. We’re sure Pope’s stumped batsmen in club and second XI games, but he’s never stumped anyone as a pro.

Ollie Pope has no pro stumpings and he is (probably) keeping wicket in a Test match.


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  1. On the plus side, it will give Yorkie Bairstow an additional grievance, which bodes well for South Africa.

      1. Let’s hope for him that England’s bowlers find more spice in this pitch than the last one. 1200+ squats in two days can’t be fun if you’re not used to it.

  2. “The brutality and lack of stumpings are unfortunate, but as a vision of the future and the relation between man and his destiny, the keeping of Ollie Pope is pushing the frontier of team selection as an art.”

    —Andrei Tarkovsky

  3. Vatican XI

    Ricky Pontiff
    Mass Dhoni
    Basilica D’Oliveira
    Matt Priory
    Ollie Pope
    Lewis Gregorian
    Agnus Dei Fraser
    Benedictine Stokes
    Eric Holiness
    Dominus Sibley
    Marcus Apostolic

      1. You’ve gone ecumenical there, Sam – even multi-denominational – in a radical squad worthy of the ECB selection panel.

        My personal favourite is Communion Harvey.

        Mr Harvey is an interesting character of a former player. However, rightly or wrongly, I might associate him more with shrimps on the barby and tinnies of amber nectar on ice, than with wafers and wine for Eucharist.

      1. Vicaram Solanki
        Shai Pope
        Rachel Priest
        Jenny Nun
        Glen Chapel
        Religion Bell
        Communion Harvey
        Stuart Lord
        Christ Schofield
        A Deal (With The Devil) Rashid
        Heaven Lewis
        Disciple Farbrace
        Torah Marsh
        Greg Jewett
        Ressurection Botham
        Immaculate conception Ward

        Yes, very busy at work today, why do you ask?

    1. One of the seamers will get knackered on account of there being no spinner to “tie up an end”. Time for KC to dust of the link to his “Always play a spinner” article again.

    2. Maybe they were just trying to nullify Pope’s “no stumpings” situation. Without a spinner in the ranks, his inability to stump anyone won’t matter.

  4. Anyone else glad this version of Warner didn’t turn up for the Ashes? Ouch. If I were captain I think I’d have let him had a go at the big four-oh-oh.

  5. Did anyone just see The Great Neil Wagner using a sledge hammer on the popping crease?

    He is truly ((the best cricketer ever) ^ 2)

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