Absence of fans won't affect team's intensity: Ollie Pope
England middle order batsman Ollie Pope believes absence of spectators in the impending Test series against West Indies will not plummet the intensity. Pope said the recently concluded intra-squad practice game has set the tone ahead of the series. The three-match Test series is set to commence on July 8 and will be played behind closed doors, owing to coronavirus pandemic. Here is more.
"When we have crowds and the Barmy Army are here it is amazing but we'll still be playing Test cricket and it's still the pinnacle. Even if there's not a single person in the crowd it's still what we all dreamed of doing," said Pope.
Pope stated the quality of Test cricket won't be affected sans spectators. "Whether we are going to play a bit of music out of the speakers I'm not sure but we can find ways of creating our own atmosphere I'm sure," he added. "We've got to find a way to do that when we get on top or when we need bit of energy."
England's three-day intra-squad practice match ended in a draw on Friday. Batting first, Team Buttler scored 287/5d with contributions from James Bracey (85) and Dan Lawrence (58). In reply, Team Stokes was bundled out for 233. Later on, an unbeaten 55 by Pope rode Team Buttler to 200/6d. Chasing 255, the Stokes-led side was able to draw the match, having put up 157/4.
Pope said the Ages Bowl track was slower than expected, during the match. "On the first day it felt a little bit soft, and there wasn't a lot of carry. Nicks weren't always carrying through. It started turning a little bit at the end. We're not sure what kind of wicket we're going to get out there come next Wednesday," he said.
The warm-up fixture must have given the selectors a fair idea about the form of players. Meanwhile, England will name a 22-man squad on Saturday morning for the series opener. Notably, the squad and management will be tested for COVID-19 on Sunday. The first Test will begin on July 8 at the Ageas Oval, while Old Trafford will host the following two Tests.