Ollie Pope, the England batsman, said life in a bio-secure coronavirus bubble was “challenging and intense” after making valuable runs during the third Test against the West Indies. Pope’s unbeaten 91 guided England to 258-4 at stumps on Friday’s first day at Old Trafford.
It was an important innings, with England slipping to 92-3 after losing the toss in the finale of a three-match campaign currently level at 1-1. Pope’s four previous knocks this series had yielded a combined tally of just 43 runs.
- Mbappe, Neymar and Thiago fighting fit as Paris St-Germain return to competitive action
- Photos: Sumo resumes in front of fans despite rise in Japan coronavirus infections
- Football: Liverpool players receive English Premier League trophy on Kop
- English Premier League transfer gossip: Jadon Sancho to make Manchester United move?
The 22-year-old admitted after stumps he had struggled with the protocols put in place for a series marking international cricket’s return from the coronavirus lockdown, with both sides confined to on-site hotels at grounds for the duration of the campaign.
“To be honest, I’ve found it challenging being in such an intense environment,” said Pope. “I’ve missed out in the first two games and not been able to get away. The hotel overlooks the cricket ground, you can’t go out for a coffee, you can’t see your family ... it isn’t easy. You can actually think about your batting, your failures, a little more than normal so to get runs is a nice feeling.
“In the second innings (of the first Test) at Southampton I got out late in the day and 20 minutes after getting out I was back in my room. It ends up playing in your mind over and over again.”
But Pope said his teammates had helped him to maintain his morale. “The lads get around you, and it is tight-knit, so if someone is struggling a bit mentally we have each other’s back.”
Pope received fine support on Friday from Jos Buttler in an unbroken stand of 136, with the wicketkeeper’s 56 not out his first fifty in 14 Test innings. “One of the things we talk about is if you get yourself in, cash in and make it as big as possible,” said Pope.
As for the prospect of completing what would be the second century of his 10-Test career, and first on home soil, Pope added: “Of course you want to get your hundred but I’ll try to switch off this evening: chill out, watch a film, maybe take a sleeping tablet before bed. I haven’t got there yet, but it would be a nice feeling.”