Ashes controversy over Pope status
Written by First Choice Radio on 30 June 2023
England were left “angry” and “bewildered” after Ollie Pope was pressed to take the field with a shoulder injury, but expect him to play his part in salvaging the second Ashes Test despite aggravating the problem.
England are 221 runs behind with eight Australian wickets to take and will need every one of their batters for what is shaping up to be a huge fourth-innings chase at Lord’s.
But Pope may struggle to be at his best after hurting his right shoulder for a second time in the match as Australia stretched their lead on day three.
England were permitted to use a substitute fielder after Pope went down in Australia’s first innings, but the situation changed after he came out to bat in his usual position of number three.
Confusion over the vice-captain’s status reigned in the England dressing room and it is understood TV umpire Marais Erasmus may have suggested they would need to field with 10 men if Pope was unfit to join his team-mates. Instead, a replacement should have been approved, with Pope allowed to bat no higher than number seven.
Pope stepped up but was left clutching the joint in pain when he dived at mid-on, departing once again for treatment for what was now considered by the officials as a fresh injury.
Assistant coach Jeetan Patel suggested England were left uncertain by their communication with the officials.
“We’re a bit bewildered by it all, I suppose. We haven’t clarified with the officials yet why he was told he had to get back out there and field. It’s a pretty tough situation when you nearly bust your shoulder,” he said.
“It’s a bit messy if I’m being honest with you. We’re probably as frustrated as everyone else that was out there and saw what happened and he’s probably more angry at the situation than anything else. He’s pretty sore.
“It’s a bit confusing. We think, or we assumed, he had to be back out on the field otherwise we’d have to field with 10 men. That made no sense to me, or us. We threw him out there in the risk that he wouldn’t have to touch the ball.
“But it was always going to happen wasn’t it? He’s so committed to this team, he was always going to fall on something. Now he’s back off icing his shoulder.”
Patel made it clear he would be ready to do his job for the side in the final innings, with England searching for a match-winner after allowing control of the Test to slip through their hands.
“I’m very certain he’ll bat, very certain he’ll bat at three and very certain he’ll be determined to score runs for England,” said Patel.
“He’s a good kid and we know that he’s going to rock up with a smile on his face and put in for the team. He’ll see it as an opportunity to take the game on.”
England were guilty of giving away their wickets far too cheaply in their first attempt, going from 188 for one to 325 all out to hand control to the tourists.
They have fought back from tighter corners than that in the past year but the route to a series-levelling win is narrowing with every run.
“We’ve seen some amazing things from this team, some crazy things,” he said.
“This team is about breaking records. They want to set new standards and sell out grounds. A way to do that is to bowl them out and set the crowd alight, then chase whatever it is down.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub