Ollie Pope on track for England return in January as he switches to Welsh Fire in The Hundred

Ollie Pope says he remains on track to return to international action for England’s potential tour of Sri Lanka in January.

Pope, 22, underwent an operation last month after dislocating his left shoulder during the #raisethebat third Test against Pakistan at The Ageas Bowl.

The injury occurred on the fourth day of the draw between the two sides as Pope slid trying to save a boundary off the bowling of Stuart Broad.

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Surrey batsman Pope says his rehabilitation is going well and that his target is to play in Sri Lanka early next year, although the prospects of the tour going ahead currently appear highly doubtful due to the ongoing global impact of the coronavirus.

“I’m spending a lot of time in the moment, just trying to get the movement and the strength back into it. They are some long days but it’s all worthwhile so long as it all goes to plan.

“I’m hoping for the start of January and if those Test matches do go ahead, then at the end of January I’ll be fully fit for them. So that’s my timeframe and the goal that I’m aiming towards.”

Pope spoke to Sky Sports News on the day that it was confirmed that he will be playing for Welsh Fire when the new The Hundred competition begins in 2021, rather than the team he was originally drafted for, Southern Brave.

The change comes about after Pope received an England Men’s Test Central Contract because rules for The Hundred stipulate that there can’t be two centrally-contracted players on the same side and Southern Brave already have Jofra Archer in their ranks.

The switch does tee up the possibility of Pope teaming up at Welsh Fire with Jonny Bairstow, who has an England white-ball contract rather than a Test deal, although Bairstow still has the option to change teams himself while the men’s retention window is open.

Bairstow continued his impressive form in the Indian Premier League on Thursday by crunching 97 off 55 balls as his Sunrisers Hyderabad stormed to a 69-run win over Kings XI Punjab, and Pope says he’d love to count the Yorkshireman as a team-mate in The Hundred.

“He’s been going seriously well in the white-ball stuff, so it would be great if the Welsh Fire could keep hold of him. He’s a pretty dominant force at the moment and he doesn’t seem to miss out too many times, so he’s great to watch.

Watch the men’s and women’s editions of The Hundred on Sky Sports Cricket in 2021.

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