WELLINGTON: Australian Lloyd Pope´s record-breaking eight-wicket spell at the Under-19 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."