India in England 2018

When England cricket’s rising star Ollie Pope was officially commended by an Australian politician

The 20-year-old Surrey batsman is preparing for his Test debut after being called into England’s squad for the second Test against India.

As he prepares for his Test debut, Ollie Pope already finds himself in the rare position for an England cricketer of having been officially commended by an Australian politician.

The 20-year-old Pope has been called into England’s squad for the second Test against India at Lord’s starting Thursday after Dawid Malan was dropped following the hosts’ 31-run win in the series opener at Edgbaston last week.

Such was the Surrey rising star’s impact while playing for the Campbelltown-Camden in Sydney grade cricket, where he scored nearly 1,000 runs, including three hundreds, club vice-president Chris Patterson, a member of the New South Wales parliament, paid formal tribute to Pope in the state legislature in March.

In addition to praising his on-field contribution, Patterson hailed Pope as an “absolute gentleman and a wonderful role model with a strong work ethic”.

Stuart Ayres, the NSW sports minister, responded by saying “it is a rare moment that a New South Wales member of Parliament speaks with such passion about an Englishman”.

‘Invaluable’

Pope, who has been in brilliant form for County Championship leaders Surrey so far this season, with 684 runs at a huge average of 85.50, including three centuries and a top score of 158 not out, credited his time in Australia for accelerating his progress as a professional cricketer.

“Obviously I did the right things at the club, and they enjoyed having me,” he told reporters at Lord’s on Tuesday. I was pretty surprised by it all (the tribute). “(But) it’s a massive thing for a young lad to do, especially when you’re just finding your way in the game.

“Being on your own two feet and getting to know your strengths and weaknesses, learning from your dismissals and the games you play well in.

“I did learn to fend for myself a bit more. It was a pretty invaluable experience.”

If Pope is slotted into Malan’s place in England’s top order, he will be batting at number four – the position of India captain Virat Kohli.

Star batsman Kohli rose to number one in the world Test rankings on the back of scoring 200 runs at Edgbaston, which included his maiden Test century on English soil.

“Yes, he’s decent!” joked Pope.

“I’m not going to look at it as me v Kohli, because that would be stupid, but it’s an exciting challenge.”

Pope found about his England call-up when national selector Ed Smith called him on Sunday.

“I was on the way to play for Surrey in a T20 at Essex,” Pope said. “I had a flat tyre the day before, so had to get a lift with a mate.

“I was in the car on my own and saw Ed Smith’s name pop up, and had an idea what it may be.

“From that moment I hardly remember the conversation, just that it was a good one.”

He added: “I called my parents for a quick chat – they were buzzing. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind day-and-a-half.

“I need to just keep riding the wave.”

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Swara Bhasker: Sharp objects has to be on the radar of every woman who is tired of being “nice”

The actress weighs in on what she loves about the show.

This article has been written by award-winning actor Swara Bhasker.

All women growing up in India, South Asia, or anywhere in the world frankly; will remember in some form or the other that gentle girlhood admonishing, “Nice girls don’t do that.” I kept recalling that gently reasoned reproach as I watched Sharp Objects (you can catch it on Hotstar Premium). Adapted from the author of Gone Girl, Gillian Flynn’s debut novel Sharp Objects has been directed by Jean-Marc Vallée, who has my heart since he gave us Big Little Lies. It stars the multiple-Oscar nominee Amy Adams, who delivers a searing performance as Camille Preaker; and Patricia Clarkson, who is magnetic as the dominating and dark Adora Crellin. As an actress myself, it felt great to watch a show driven by its female performers.

The series is woven around a troubled, alcohol-dependent, self-harming, female journalist Camille (single and in her thirties incidentally) who returns to the small town of her birth and childhood, Wind Gap, Missouri, to report on two similarly gruesome murders of teenage girls. While the series is a murder mystery, it equally delves into the psychology, not just of the principal characters, but also of the town, and thus a culture as a whole.

There is a lot that impresses in Sharp Objects — the manner in which the storytelling gently unwraps a plot that is dark, disturbing and shocking, the stellar and crafty control that Jean-Marc Vallée exercises on his narrative, the cinematography that is fluid and still manages to suggest that something sinister lurks within Wind Gap, the editing which keeps this narrative languid yet sharp and consistently evokes a haunting sensation.

Sharp Objects is also liberating (apart from its positive performance on Bechdel parameters) as content — for female actors and for audiences in giving us female centric and female driven shows that do not bear the burden of providing either role-models or even uplifting messages. 

Instead, it presents a world where women are dangerous and dysfunctional but very real — a world where women are neither pure victims, nor pure aggressors. A world where they occupy the grey areas, complex and contradictory as agents in a power play, in which they control some reigns too.

But to me personally, and perhaps to many young women viewers across the world, what makes Sharp Objects particularly impactful, perhaps almost poignant, is the manner in which it unravels the whole idea, the culture, the entire psychology of that childhood admonishment “Nice girls don’t do that.” Sharp Objects explores the sinister and dark possibilities of what the corollary of that thinking could be.

“Nice girls don’t do that.”

“Who does?”

“Bad girls.”

“So I’m a bad girl.”

“You shouldn’t be a bad girl.”

“Why not?”

“Bad girls get in trouble.”

“What trouble? What happens to bad girls?”

“Bad things.”

“What bad things?”

“Very bad things.”

“How bad?”

“Terrible!!!”

“Like what?”

“Like….”

A point the show makes early on is that both the victims of the introductory brutal murders were not your typically nice girly-girls. Camille, the traumatised protagonist carrying a burden from her past was herself not a nice girl. Amma, her deceptive half-sister manipulates the nice girl act to defy her controlling mother. But perhaps the most incisive critique on the whole ‘Be a nice girl’ culture, in fact the whole ‘nice’ culture — nice folks, nice manners, nice homes, nice towns — comes in the form of Adora’s character and the manner in which beneath the whole veneer of nice, a whole town is complicit in damning secrets and not-so-nice acts. At one point early on in the show, Adora tells her firstborn Camille, with whom she has a strained relationship (to put it mildly), “I just want things to be nice with us but maybe I don’t know how..” Interestingly it is this very notion of ‘nice’ that becomes the most oppressive and deceptive experience of young Camille, and later Amma’s growing years.

This ‘Culture of Nice’ is in fact the pervasive ‘Culture of Silence’ that women all over the world, particularly in India, are all too familiar with. 

It takes different forms, but always towards the same goal — to silence the not-so-nice details of what the experiences; sometimes intimate experiences of women might be. This Culture of Silence is propagated from the child’s earliest experience of being parented by society in general. Amongst the values that girls receive in our early years — apart from those of being obedient, dutiful, respectful, homely — we also receive the twin headed Chimera in the form of shame and guilt.

“Have some shame!”

“Oh for shame!”

“Shameless!”

“Shameful!”

“Ashamed.”

“Do not bring shame upon…”

Different phrases in different languages, but always with the same implication. Shameful things happen to girls who are not nice and that brings ‘shame’ on the family or everyone associated with the girl. And nice folks do not talk about these things. Nice folks go on as if nothing has happened.

It is this culture of silence that women across the world today, are calling out in many different ways. Whether it is the #MeToo movement or a show like Sharp Objects; or on a lighter and happier note, even a film like Veere Di Wedding punctures this culture of silence, quite simply by refusing to be silenced and saying the not-nice things, or depicting the so called ‘unspeakable’ things that could happen to girls. By talking about the unspeakable, you rob it of the power to shame you; you disallow the ‘Culture of Nice’ to erase your experience. You stand up for yourself and you build your own identity.

And this to me is the most liberating aspect of being an actor, and even just a girl at a time when shows like Sharp Objects and Big Little Lies (another great show on Hotstar Premium), and films like Veere Di Wedding and Anaarkali Of Aarah are being made.

The next time I hear someone say, “Nice girls don’t do that!”, I know what I’m going to say — I don’t give a shit about nice. I’m just a girl! And that’s okay!

Swara is a an award winning actor of the Hindi film industry. Her last few films, including Veere Di Wedding, Anaarkali of Aaraah and Nil Battey Sannata have earned her both critical and commercial success. Swara is an occasional writer of articles and opinion pieces. The occasions are frequent :).

Watch the trailer of Sharp Objects here:

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This article was published by the Scroll marketing team with Swara Bhasker on behalf of Hotstar Premium and not by the Scroll editorial team.