England-Ireland Series

Pope adamant England in a 'regular Test' after dominating Ireland


প্রকাশের তারিখ: 12:11 শনিবার, 03 জুন, 2023

|| AFP ||

Ollie Pope said on Friday he still felt he was involved in a "regular Test match" after his quickfire double century helped England eye a win inside three days in their Ashes warm-up over Ireland at Lord's.

Pope's 205, the fastest double hundred in a Test in England, and Ben Duckett's 182, the quickest 150 in a Test at Lord's, were the cornerstones of England's huge first innings total of 524-4 declared on the second day.

At stumps, in a match already being played over a maximum of four days rather than the usual five, Ireland had slumped to 97-3 in their second innings, a deficit of 255 runs. 

England debutant fast bowler Josh Tongue did the damage with 3-27 and Ireland opener James McCollum's innings was cut short when he retired hurt with an ankle injury.

Pope, asked if this match felt as much of a Test as his previous 35, told reporters: "Absolutely. Credit to Ireland they've charged in all day -- that was a really good pitch, the ball was soft."

The 25-year-old England vice-captain, whose innings far exceeded his previous Test best of 145, added: "We are all privileged to play in front of pretty much a packed house at Lord's. I hope everyone, the Ireland team as well. I think it 100 percent felt like a regular Test match."

Australia' preparations for a five-match Ashes series that starts later this month include next week's World Test Championship final across London at the Oval.

 'Going to get harder'

Duckett, fresh from marking his first Test in England in some style, was under no illusions about the challenge ahead.

"It's only going to get harder, it's going to be a tougher summer than this week," he said. 

"I can't wait to take on the Aussies in a few weeks."

But if England do win this match by an innings, the likes of middle-order batsman Jonny Bairstow will not have spent any time at the crease in Test cricket this season ahead of the Ashes opener at Edgbaston starting on June 16.

And England captain Ben Stokes, battling a longstanding knee injury, could end the Ireland match without the all-rounder having batted or bowled.

"I guess Jonny didn't bat but he's played a lot of county cricket," said Pope. 

"The way cricket is now, there is not always that feeling of you needing a load of innings before a series."

If Ireland looked outclassed, it was hardly surprising.

This is just their seventh Test and although they set-up a domestic first-class competition prior to being granted Test status, it was suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Cricket Ireland wanted to restart the tournament this year but could not afford the cost and plans to revive the event may depend on whether they qualify for the 50-over World Cup in India later this year, which would be worth some one million euros to them. 

"We play in Test matches at the minute against guys who have 50, 60 or more first-class games behind them, and some of our guys have less than five," said Ireland batting coach Gary Wilson. 

"So it's tough, it's probably not the way we would chose to go about it but it is what it is and it doesn't take away from the guys wanting to be out there."