WELLINGTON: Australian Lloyd Pope’s record-breaking eight-wicket spell at the U19 World Cup on Tuesday has left the leg-spinner “on top of the world”, as the feat sparks comparisons to the legendary Shane Warne.
Pope took eight for 35 against England to spin Australia into the semi-finals and set a new benchmark at the youth tournament, which is currently under way in New Zealand.
“I always love playing for my country whether I’m taking wickets or not, so going out there and doing it with some really good mates is an awesome experience,” a beaming Pope told reporters. “I was on top of the world really today. I mean to win a quarter final is awesome,” he added.
The 18-year-old came into the attack with England cruising at 47 without loss as they chased Australia’s modest total of 127.
But, just as Warne did on numerous occasions, Pope soaked up the pressure and bamboozled England’s batsmen to have them all out for 96.
“I’ve always loved to bowl wrong’uns from an early age,” Pope said when asked about his lethal googly. “It’s a big part of my game and I love bowling variations and just working on new things in the nets.”
Aussie media, still smarting from the senior team’s ODI series loss to England, seized upon the red-headed tyro’s heroics in Queenstown.
“The new Shane Warne has arrived,” Pope’s home-town paper the Adelaide Advertiser trumpeted on its website.
Cricket Australia’s website cricket.com.au likened his impact to Warne’s in the 1999 World Cup, when he took four for 29 against South Africa.
Even the game’s governing body, the ICC, could not resist the comparison, saying: “This could justifiably be called a Warne-esque spell.
“This has a claim to being Australia’s most explosive scene-bursting moment since Shane lobbed one up to Mike Gatting in 1993,” it added.
Warne, the so-called “sheikh of tweak”, remains among Test cricket’s greatest wicket-takers, with 708 scalps over a stellar 15-year career.
His gravity-defying delivery to Gatting announced his arrival on the world stage and has been called “the ball of the century”.
Warne himself was effusive about Pope’s performance.
“This is terrific & brings a huge smile to my face. I had the pleasure of meeting this impressive young man in Adelaide a while ago,” he tweeted.
“Was nice to have a bowl with him too — Lloyd give it a rip — well done & congrats! Spin to win my friend.”
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