Insights that Echo Beyond the Echo Chamber


We won’t complain if pitches in India spin from ball one: Ollie Pope

Ollie Pope said he did not mind low-scoring Test matches, saying they are “amazing to watch”. File
| Photo Credit: Getty Images

England vice-captain Ollie Pope said his side won’t complain if India offer pitches assisting spin from the first ball itself during their five-match Test tour beginning on January 25, as he believed that it was up to the host country to prepare tracks that suited their players.

The 26-year-old Pope, a right-handed middle-order batter, did not shy away from the thought that the nature of pitches will be a hot topic of discussion during the series.

“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 nature of pitches made the headlines recently after India won a Test against South Africa in Cape Town inside two days.

India captain Rohit Sharma had said that he did not mind playing on pitches like in Newlands “as long as everyone keeps their mouth shut when they come to India and don’t talk too much about Indian pitches”.

Pope, who has scored 2136 runs from 38 Tests since his debut in 2018, also did not mind low-scoring Test matches, saying they are “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 part of the touring England team that lost 1-3 to India three years ago, and he had struggled with the bat. He could pass 20 in four of his eight innings but 34 was 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).”


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