England will not change their attacking philosophy in the second Ashes test against Australia at Lord’s this week despite falling agonisingly short in a thriller at Edgbaston, vice-captain Ollie Pope said on Monday.
Australia weathered England’s Bazball approach — the gung-ho style masterminded by coach Brendon McCullum and adopted to great effect by Ben Stokes’s team — and squeezed home by two wickets.
While generally applauded, some have criticised England’s decision to declare with two wickets standing on a frenetic opening day, and the way they lost wickets on day four as they set Australia a total of 281 for victory.
England’s best batsman Joe Root was stumped charging down the pitch at Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon having scored 46 from 55 balls in the second innings and other batters made good starts but failed to cash in.
“I know sometimes it can look like it’s just moments of madness but all the decisions that are made are well thought out with a vision of the end goal,” Pope told a news conference.
“These decisions aren’t just a rash thought. They are well thought out and spoken about by senior players in the changing room. We come to a group decision and back that decision 100%. There’s no looking back on that decision once it’s made.”
Another defeat at Lord’s would leave England’s hopes of reclaiming the Ashes hanging by a thread and facing a first home series defeat by Australia since 2001.
“We might find ourselves in a similar situation this week, who knows? That’s what Stokesy and Baz (Brendon McCullum) are very good at, they read conditions very well,” Pope said of whether England could again declare early.
“We’ll talk consistently throughout this test match, if there’s a decision like the first day at Edgbaston.
“If we feel there are (bowler-friendly) overhead (conditions) one evening and we might have a half-hour opportunity to get a few wickets and get into their middle order early the next day, then we’ll talk about it.”
Lord’s is traditionally a seamer-friendly pitch but spin is likely to come into play as it did at Edgbaston and Pope offered some good news on off-spinner Moeen Ali’s finger.
Moeen suffered a cut at Edgbaston and was hampered in Australia’s second innings when he took one wicket for 57 in 14 overs, with Root eventually taking over spin duties.
“I think Mo’s all good, hopefully he’s fit to play,” said Pope, who faced Moeen in the nets on Monday.
“It was pretty unfortunate what happened and hopefully over these few days it has looked after itself.”
England have called in 18-year-old leg-spinner Rehan Ahmed as a possible replacement for Moeen.