In a fan Q&A for Sky Sports, Pope was asked who the best bowler he has faced is and Rashid – who he has played against in county cricket – won out in regards to the spin category.
“The best spinner I’ve probably faced is Rashid Khan,” said Pope. “The speed his arm comes over at makes him a lot harder to pick than other spinners. There is not a massive amount of difference between his googly and regular leg-spinner which makes it harder to work out what he is going to bowl.”
Pope spoke to Wisden Cricket Monthly last year about facing Rashid, with slightly unorthodox methods used to tackle the threat of the bowler who sits at the top of the ICC’s T20I bowling rankings.
“I play some weird sweeps,” Pope said. “I’ve got one which I’ve only played against Rashid Khan, where I put my right leg forward – rather than my left leg as a right-hander would normally – and try to sweep in front of square leg. I couldn’t even tell you why, it’s such an instinctive thing.”
In his Q&A for Sky Sports, Pope added that South Africa’s Dale Steyn, another bowler he has yet to come up against for England, was probably the best seamer he has faced, and also name-dropped some of Steyn’s compatriots.
“He [Steyn] was coming back from injury when I faced him but you could still tell the skill he had,” Pope said. “The same goes for Kagiso Rabada, who I faced this winter, when he showed what an unbelievable bowler he is. Morne Morkel, too, is not much fun when I have to face him in the nets at Surrey! The bounce and pace he gets puts him right up there.”