“It has got its challenges but you get around the lads, the lads get around you, and it is tight knit so if someone is struggling a bit mentally we have each other’s back”
Last Updated: 24/07/20 10:21pm
Ollie Pope feels “a weight has been lifted off his shoulders” after posting his first substantial Test score of the summer amid the “challenging” nature of living in a bio-secure environment.
Pope struck an unbeaten 91 on day one of the series decider against West Indies, as England recovered from 122-4 to 258-4 at stumps.
The batsman had made seven and three scores of 12 in his first four innings of the #raisethebat series and told Sky Sports Cricket he has found the inability to get away from the game difficult.
“It is nice to get a few and it does feel like a little bit of a weight off the shoulders,” the 22-year-old said from the Sandals Player Zone.
“To miss out [in previous games] and to be in such an intense environment where we you are not able to see your family, has been a little bit challenging. You go back to your room and are overlooking the cricket pitch.
“In the second innings [of the first Test] at Hampshire I got out late in the day and 20 minutes after getting out I was back in my room. I wasn’t able to go for a coffee or see my family and it ends up playing in your mind over and over again.
England vs W Indies
July 25, 2020, 10:30am
“It has got its challenges but you get around the lads, the lads get around you, and it is tight knit so if someone is struggling a bit mentally we have each other’s back.
“It is good to check in and see how people are doing because people have spent so much time with their family [during the coronavirus pandemic] and now they are not seeing them at all or having any contact.”
Pope’s fourth Test fifty – one he will hope to turn into a second Test ton – was notable for some impressive drives and focus on rotating the strike as he shared an unbroken fifth-wicket stand of 136 with Jos Buttler (56no).
“I had a few challenges early on with Kemar Roach – I probably was a bit tentative outside off stump when I saw him shaping a few away,” added Pope, who reached fifty from 77 balls.
“I was happy with how I was driving but I edged one short of [Jason] Holder at slip and and got a bit of luck so I learnt my lessons.
“I just tried to get back to watching the ball as close as I can and not drag those hands outside off stump. I didn’t try to over-hit – if I was trying to drive for two there was less of a chance of me nicking it.”
When asked about strike rotation, Pope said he learned a lot from his time playing alongside former Sri Lanka batsman Kumar Sangakkara at Surrey.
“I have always been a busy player [but] I was lucky enough to play with Sangakkara and a number of times he would nick a single off the first ball of the innings just to get off the mark. It’s a real good way of putting the bowler under pressure and not letting him bowl six balls at you.”
On himself and Buttler scoring pretty freely before a bad light ended the day’s play, Pope added: “We didn’t chat about the upping the tempo, we just wanted to make sure we were there when the new ball came.
“Naturally having spent a long time in the field [West Indies] are going to give you a few [bad] balls and pitch up the new one to see what it’s offering. It was a natural change of tempo.”
Watch day two of the series-deciding third #raisethebat Test live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Saturday.
Source : Sky Sports