Most England batsmen dislike most Australian grounds, particularly the old Waca bounce at Perth. It is more uncommon for English batsmen to dislike home grounds.
Former England captain Nasser Hussain could not handle Old Trafford and averaged nine in Test cricket there. He was not alone in finding English ground hard to beat. Another man who turned 50 this week, Sachin Tendulkar, played five of his 200 Tests at Lord’s and averaged just 21.
It would be beneficial for England this summer if Ollie Pope were to develop more of an affinity for Edgbaston than he has so far.
In his four Test innings, on what was usually a field goal, he has amassed 52 runs – and another dismissal on this ground while representing Surrey will not have put him in the best mood. positive before the first ashes. Test on June 16.
At his home ground in the Oval, on the other extreme, the Pope averaged almost 100 in first-class cricket; and just two weeks ago he fought against Hampshire like Joe Root on fire and with even less footwear.
He kept running down the field to the three fine Hampshire seamers and took the game away from them with a brilliant unbeaten 91 and a hundred. So, this time the Warwickshire wicketkeeper stood up.
The key early bowler was not Chris Woakes, who was tidy but not very penetrating, but Chris Rushworth, the Durham seamer, who moved the new ball around in the still damp conditions, but at little more than 80 mph. Michael Burgess then came up to break the Pope in his cage, and he did so.
After being confined to barracks, Pope was ready to charge when Rushworth ended his initial inquiries and was replaced at the Pavilion End by Pakistan pace bowler Hasan Ali. Ali may be the skinniest and shortest bowler in this tournament but he is a slippery quick, so Burgess had to stand back and Pope felt entitled to a charge. It was a fatal mistake.
It’s one thing to charge bowlers 80 mph; There was another charge on Ali, who is 85+, and before the Pope’s eye was inside. Furthermore, after Pope skipped a few steps towards the bowler, he aimed not through midwicket but through square leg, and looked out lbw, down the field though, as the ball going over the stumps.
In a game that could have greatly affected the outcome of the championship, these were not circumstances of brilliance but of sticking and working the square of the ball. Only two batsmen have reached 50, and both have potential in England.
First up was Warwickshire’s left-hander Dan Mousley, who was out for his overnight 55 although his county could add just seven more runs. The second was Surrey’s right-hander Jamie Smith.
Mousley is compact, well balanced, balanced and was not afraid to go back on the field at times to disrupt the control of the Surrey seamers.
Smith is tall – not tall for a batsman but for a wicket-keeper he is occasionally tall – and already skilled at division: he can be a white-ball hitter, having reached the fastest 50 for the English Lions off 71 balls, and still he can keep the ball on the ground, as he did in the mature 57 off 114 balls that gave Surrey a lead of 61 so far.
The first twist was seen in the last hour of the second day when Rob Yates managed to move some breaks on a tight line of defense to keep Surrey quiet until the second new ball. And there was no other choice but to achieve the bottom of both, if the championship is to be staged in April.
Not “Bazball”, more boring and blocky. Even with four England players in their top five, and Smith’s future chances good, Surrey could not score more than 2.6 runs – and Pope paid the penalty for being more ambitious.