England middle-order batsman Ollie Pope wrote a blog on the big win for England in the first Test against Pakistan, on how much an impact Stokes’ absence will be for the England side, and his dismissal in the second innings.
He started off by writing about the talismanic all-rounder and his absence, but also stressed that England have other players who can step up at the right time. He wrote, “There are bigger things than cricket and it is important that Ben Stokes is able to spend time with his family – but he will be a massive miss for us for the rest of the series against Pakistan.”
“He is probably the best cricketer in the world at the moment, a game changer, and even if he does miss out with bat or ball, his aura on the pitch or slip catching still influences games. To have him around is awesome but, as we showed in the previous Test, we are not reliant on one player. We have guys who step up to the mark.”
He then wrote about his dismissal in the second innings, and also justified the reason behind him sporting a smile while walking back to the changing room after being dismissed, “When I walked off I didn’t really know what to say to Chris Woakes as we passed – you almost have to laugh it off as there is not much you can do as a batter if you get a ball like I got from Shaheen Afridi. Normally when I get out I like to think there is something I could have done but when one bounces out of nowhere and smashes you on the wrist of your top hand, there’s not much you can do.”
He further explained, “I walked to the changing room with a nice egg on my wrist and I don’t think I have ever been as relaxed getting out in a Test match as that as I knew there was nothing I could have done. If you are getting wound up getting out like that, it’s not going to do your headspace any good.”
Pope then wrote about the match-winning partnership between Chris Woakes and Jos Buttler, “Woakesy and Jos Buttler’s partnership from that point was unbelievable and I think the conditions gave them clarity on how they wanted to play. They knew that they were going to have to be aggressive and try to win the game before the next new ball could be taken. That gave them the opportunity to up the run rate.”
“Two of the best blokes around took us to victory. Woakesy and Jos are very popular within the team and I was so happy it was those two lads that turned the game. Whenever Woakesy comes in he seems to do a great job. He is not usually on the front page of papers but he always comes off with wickets, runs or both and we value him incredibly highly.
I guess it is frustrating for him that due to our strength in depth he does miss out at times, even after superb performances, but for us it creates healthy competition within the squad and spurs players on and gives the selectors lots of headaches. Woakesy is known within the media as the one of the nicest lads in the world, which he is, but he is also a great laugh and has a jokey side, like when he was calling my hotel room when I was chatting to Sky Sports a day before the first Test.
Jos, too, was outstanding on the final day. He had obviously copped a bit of criticism so to come through that shows what an amazing player he is, what an unbelievable talent he, is and how mentally strong he is. He said afterwards that he did have self-doubts but the way he bounced back was exceptional.
When you watch Jos bat in the nets sometimes you wonder how on earth he does the things he does and he is great to bat with out in the middle. He is a calming influence and as we are both pretty positive players we are going to keep the scoreboard ticking over.”