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Division 2, The Oval, September 21 - 24, 2021, County Championship

Match drawn


Ollie Pope puts pedal to metal on Oval motorway with career-best 274

Surrey batter commits to Ashes availability as Surrey rack up 722 for 4 against Glamorgan

Matt Roller
Matt Roller
Ollie Pope celebrates his second double-hundred of the season  •  Getty Images for Surrey CCC

Ollie Pope celebrates his second double-hundred of the season  •  Getty Images for Surrey CCC

Surrey 722 for 4 declared (Pope 274, Amla 163, Smith 138, Patel 62, Foakes 53*) drew with Glamorgan 672 for 6 declared (C Cooke 205*, Lloyd 121, Carlson 69, J Cooke 68, Douthwaite 59, Virdi 3-140)
Ollie Pope piled on the highest score of his professional career and took his first-class average at The Kia Oval to a Bradmanesque 99.94 on the final day of Surrey's painstaking draw with Glamorgan, in which only 10 wickets fell across a dozen sessions. Surrey's total of 722 for 4 declared was their third-highest in first-class cricket, and their highest since 1909.
Pope, captaining Surrey for the first time with Rory Burns rested by the ECB, resumed unbeaten on 95 with no prospect of a result on the final day, and feasted on a diet of part-time spin, scoring freely throughout on his way to 274 before he was castled on the stroke of tea to give Hamish Rutherford - bowling left-arm orthodox spin - a maiden first-class wicket in his 115th game.
With no sign of deterioration in the flattest of pitches and Glamorgan resting their weary seamers as the season approached its (anti)climax, batting was hardly taxing. Hashim Amla made 163, adding 362 for the third wicket with Pope before chipping Kiran Carlson's offbreak to mid-on, while there was an unbeaten 53 for Ben Foakes in his first innings since he tore a hamstring in May.
Rikki Clarke made 12 not out on his final day as a professional cricketer and was given a guard of honour by Glamorgan's fielders as he walked out after tea, following his sign-off at Surrey's end-of-season dinner on Thursday night. All 11 Glamorgan players bowled at some stage during their 196 overs in the field, with wicketkeeper Chris Cooke sharing the new ball with Carlson, trundling in to bowl medium pace with Michael Hogan, the veteran seamer, taking the gloves; the joke went round that the best hope for some excitement would be climate activists mistaking the pitch for the M25.
This was the second time this season that Surrey have played a Championship game on an Oval pitch offering no assistance for bowlers following their run-fest against Leicestershire in the second round of games, and while the surface made this final day of the summer a dreary spectacle despite the bright sunshine, Pope insisted that there was merit in playing on this sort of pitch.
"Part of playing on these kinds of wickets is challenging yourself and being as mentally switched on as you can for as long as you can be," Pope said afterwards. "It's one of those wickets that allows you to try a few things and practise a few things with your movements, and see what works well for you as well. You can gain a lot from it as a batter.
"I thought if I was going to get 300, I might as well try and do it in style, and I ended up with my poles knocked out, but that's just the way it is. Because of the nature of the wicket it wasn't necessarily the most challenging of circumstances to be in but I had good fun batting with Hash out there - he watches closely. If he sees anything in your game he'll tell you, even the smallest fine details, and we had a lot of fun out there."
Pope will take two weeks off after this game in a bid to switch off from cricket ahead of a likely Ashes tour this winter, and the innings ended what has been a strange summer for him. He has been typically dominant in the Championship, finishing the season with 861 runs at 78.27, but played only three Tests through a combination of injury and selection.
"I feel like from a personal point of view like I've been in good form all season," he said. "I've felt constantly like I should be scoring big runs throughout and I've managed to put a few big scores together. It's frustrating when you get an injury like that which puts you out of selection for one game and then you feel like you're chasing your tail a little bit, but it's always an honour to pull on an England or Surrey shirt whenever selected.
"Coming from the England stuff into the Surrey stuff can be a challenge at the end of the season - just mentally switching yourself onto the different challenges that county cricket produces. It's been a stop-start time which is frustrating because, as a player, you just want to play the whole time really."
Pope also confirmed that he would be available to tour Australia, with England's players due to receive more information on the likely restrictions they will face in the coming days.
"It's been a long season - that India tour rolled into a long county season and international summer - so it's going to be nice just to have two weeks away from cricket, not really picking up a bat, and then start training hard again for potentially an Ashes series," he said. "Whenever you get a little break and a chance to mentally refresh and reset, you've got to take it, and use it to your advantage so you come back hungry and ready to go.
"Talking as a guy who plays one format at the moment for England - and I don't have a girlfriend or wife, kids or anything - I'm one of those guys that it doesn't really matter for me, that time away from home. I would be available for the [Ashes] tour, but I'm one of the only ones in that circumstance without a family for myself and just playing the one form."

Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @mroller98

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