We Can Find Ways of Creating Our Own Atmosphere: Ollie Pope on Absence of Fans
Ollie Pope (© AFP Photo)

England Test batsman Ollie Pope reckons that while the absence of fans in the stadium will affect the atmosphere but that doesn’t mean it will also have a detrimental effect on the quality of contest.

England host West Indies for a three-match Test series starting July 8 in a bio-secure environment which necessitates banning fans from entering the stadium. The series will also mark the resumption of international cricket that has been put on hold for over three months due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Pope said playing Tests is the pinnacle for any cricketer and so the motivation and drive will be there.

“When we have big crowds in and the Barmy Army are here it is amazing but we’ll still be playing Test cricket and it’s still the pinnacle,” Pope said. “Even if there’s not a single person in the crowd it’s still what we all dreamed of doing. There will still be the same nerves in the morning because so much rides on it. When that Test match starts up, crowd or no crowd, you are going to be really up for it.”

The 22-year-old, who has played seven Tests so far, said the team can create its own atmosphere to create the energy and excitement when needed. “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. We’ve got to find a way to do that when we get on top or when we need a bit of energy,” he said.

England prepared for the first Test through an intra-squad match between Team Buttler and Team Stokes which ended in a draw on Friday. The warm-up mach, Pope said, has put the players in the right mindset.

“The quality of competition going on out there was really high-class throughout the three days. I think we’re getting there. We’re all moving the right direction,” Pope, who made a rapid 55 in the second innings said.

“I felt pretty good in the first innings, and it was nice to spend a bit more time out there today. We’re all moving in the right direction,” he added.

Talking about the Ageas Bowl surface, Pope found it a little slower.

“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.

“We’ve played on some quite spicy wickets in the nets, and obviously just against our own bowlers. There are no net bowlers around, so the quality of bowling has been seriously high on some pretty spicy wickets,” he added.