‘We won’t complain if pitches in India…’: England’s Ollie Pope

NEW DELHI: England‘s vice-captain, Ollie Pope, expressed a pragmatic stance regarding the nature of pitches in the upcoming five-match Test tour against India starting on January 25.
Pope stated that England wouldn’t lodge complaints if India opted for pitches that favored spin right from the outset. He emphasised that the responsibility for pitch preparation rested with the host country, and it was their prerogative to create surfaces that suited their players.

Pope, a 26-year-old right-handed middle-order batter, acknowledged that the nature of pitches was likely to be a prominent topic of discussion during the series.

This statement reflects a willingness on England’s part to adapt to different playing conditions and challenges, showcasing a sportsmanlike approach as they prepare for the Test series against India.
“There will be a lot of outside noise. And pitches can be a massive talking point. But you have to remember the two teams are playing on the exact same wicket, so we just need to be as well-equipped as we can,” Pope was quoted as saying by ‘The Guardian’.
“In England, we might leave more grass on the pitch to suit our amazing seamers, so it’s no surprise if India do the same to suit their spinners,” he said before England flew out to Abu Dhabi for a training camp ahead of the Test series.
The recent headlines surrounding the nature of pitches gained attention, particularly after India secured a Test victory against South Africa in Cape Town within two days. In response to this, India’s captain, Rohit Sharma, expressed his willingness to play on pitches like those in Newlands, with the caveat that visiting teams refrain from criticising Indian pitches.
Pope, who has accumulated 2136 runs from 38 Tests since his debut in 2018, echoed a similar sentiment. The England vice-captain expressed that he didn’t mind low-scoring Test matches, describing them as “amazing to watch.”
“I actually think low-scoring Test matches (where the ball has the edge over the bat) are pretty amazing to watch,” he said.
“I saw a fair bit of South Africa versus India and it was great: guys scoring seriously tough runs and the ball flying through.
“The scores could be similar in India but if the pitches spin from ball one we won’t be complaining. It’s about finding a method to combat it.”
Pope was a member of the touring team that faced India three years ago, resulting in a 1-3 series loss for England. During that series, Pope encountered difficulties with the bat, struggling to make significant contributions. In eight innings, he managed to surpass 20 runs in four instances, with 34 being his highest score.
“We had some young guys on that tour. Myself, Zak Crawley, Ben Foakes – it was our first India tour and we were probably taken by surprise when it turned from ball one (after the first Test). But if we had read the pitch well enough and quickly enough…,” he recollected.
“I look at the guys who were most successful, Rohit Sharma and Rishabh Pant, they didn’t rotate strike a huge amount. That’s tough to do on those pitches, you can’t just work spin around like in England. You need a really solid defence but also four and six options, to hit the spinners off their length.”
Further talking about the challenges while playing in India, he said, “The danger ball last time was the one that went straight on – the ones that spun almost spun too much.
“It’s like in England when the (seaming) ball goes past your outside edge, you play it well with soft hands or miss it. It’s a case of being at peace with being beaten – that’s almost a win if you’re covering (lbw and bowled).”
(With PTI inputs)

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