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‘Tightening a few loose screws’ – Pope on what’s next for ‘Bazball’

Ollie Pope has vowed England will continue with their attacking approach to Test cricket but admits there are tweaks which need to be made.

The positive strategy, colloquially termed ‘Bazball’, championed by captain Ben Stokes and head coach Brendon McCullum since they took charge of the red-ball team came in for scrutiny during the 4-1 series defeat in India at the start of this year.

England were unable to build on a stunning 28-run win in the opening Test and the tour concluded with an innings and 64-run defeat inside three days, but vice-captain Pope does not envisage a wholesale overhaul for this summer’s home Test series against the West Indies and Sri Lanka.

“We still want to be a team where we’re positive,” Pope told Sky Sports News. “We’ve had some good success over here and just because we’ve lost this series against India doesn’t mean we need to reinvent the wheel.

“For us, now, it’s about tightening a few loose screws – that’s how I’d describe it. We can take a lot of confidence over what we’ve done over the last two years or so.

“But we also realise we want to be the best team in the world and to do that we need to be better at what we’ve been doing over the last two years or so.

“In a few small ways, we can really hone in and become a better team so we can compete with the guys, especially away from home.”

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Michael Atherton and Nasser Hussain discuss what could be next for England and Bazball after their loss to India.

The highlight for Pope during the tour of India after returning to the team following a shoulder injury was his 196 in the first Test in Hyderabad, but across his nine other innings in India he only averaged 13.22 with the bat and did not score higher than 39.

That sporadic run-scoring was a problem for the rest of England’s batting line-up during the tour as well and the 26-year-old acknowledged they all need to find a level of consistency which does not leave the team relying on one or two players accumulating big totals.

“We still want to go about that positive style of cricket and that freedom,” Pope said. “From a batting point of view, each batter has had their own success in their own positions.

“Each batter is smart enough to know exactly how they need to play and to put about an innings and go score a hundred as consistently as they can.

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Nasser Hussain believes there is too much said and written about Bazball, instead of looking at individual performances in the England team.

“That’s our next step as a batting unit, to be as consistent as we possibly can, and if we can all fire at similar times then hopefully, we can be a pretty dangerous side.”

England’s 2024 home Test matches

July 10-14: First Test vs West Indies (Lord’s)

July 18-22: Second Test vs West Indies (Trent Bridge)

July 26-30: Third Test vs West India (Edgbaston)

August 21-25: First Test vs Sri Lanka (Old Trafford)

August 29-September 2: Second Test vs Sri Lanka (Lord’s)

September 6-10: Third Test vs Sri Lanka (The Oval)

Sky News
(c) Sky Sports 2024:Source