England frustrated after Ollie Pope forced to field with injured shoulder

England

England were left frustrated that Ollie Pope was forced to field with an injured shoulder on the third day at Lord’s after initially being under the impression from match officials that they would otherwise only have 10 players.

In the 18th over of Australia’s second innings Pope then reaggravated the injury he first suffered on the first day as he dived at mid-on. With the initial injury classed as external, Pope was able to bat at his usual No. 3 position in the first innings and the umpires then took the view that he should have been able to field.

England, though, were willing to accept him sliding to No. 7 in the order and using a substitute fielder – the standard process when a player is off the field for a substantial period of time – but that option is understood to have not been offered by match officials.

However, when Pope left the field having hurt his shoulder again the umpires ruled it a fresh external injury and he will be able to bat No. 3 in England’s second innings should he fit to do so.

“We’re a bit bewildered by it all,” Jeetan Patel, England’s spin-bowling coach, said. “It’s a bit confusing. We assumed that he was asked that he had to be back out on the field or we would have to field with 10 men. And that made no sense to us.

“It’s a pretty tough situation when you nearly bust your shoulder and you’re told it was an external [injury]. It was always going to happen. He’s so committed to this team. He was always going to fall on something. And now he’s back off.

“It’s a bit messy, if I’m being honest with you. We’re probably as frustrated as everyone else that was out there that saw what happened and he’s probably more angry at the situation than anything else.”

Patel added that he was “very certain” that Pope would bat No. 3 in England’s chase although there must now be some doubt over his availability for Headingley given the three-day turnaround with back-to-back Tests.

“He is sore but he should be okay,” Patel said. “He’s never going to turn down an opportunity to bat for England and with an opportunity to win a game, I can’t see Ollie Pope saying no to that. He’s grown since he’s come into the team, with the responsibility of being vice-captain but also the support of the other batters around him. I think he’ll see it as an opportunity to take this game on.”

Australia closed the third day with a lead of 221 and eight wickets in hand. Last season England launched the Bazball era with a series of outstanding run chases against New Zealand and India, hunting down consecutive targets of 277, 299, 296 and latterly 378 at Edgbaston.

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