Ollie Pope is optimistic England can obtain a first-innings lead despite suffering another collapse on day one of the second Test against South Africa at Newlands. The tourists were 185-4 after Joe Root won the toss in Cape Town, but slumped to 234-9 after losing five wickets for only 49 runs in Cape Town on Friday.
Pope ended a poor day for England – 1-0 down in the four-match series – with the bat on a positive note by making an unbeaten 56, taking the score on to 262-9 in an unbroken final-wicket stand of 28 with James Anderson. The middle-order batsman was pleased to make a contribution on his return from illness a day after his 22nd birthday and hopes he and Anderson can continue to frustrate the Proteas before making inroads with the ball.
Pope told Sky Sports: “It’s been a frustrating few weeks. Leading into that first Test, I couldn’t have felt any better with the bat and then falling ill the day before was a bit of a nightmare. “But I’m really happy from a personal point of view with how today went and hopefully we can get a few more tomorrow.”
Ben Stokes (47) was among the England batsmen to gift his wicket tamely on the opening day, but Pope says the pitch also provided the South Africa bowlers with some assistance. “It’s a frustration but you look at some of the wickets, there’s some good balls and I think the pitch has offered a little bit for the seamers and there is a bit of spin out there, so it was probably more a reflection of the pitch than how we played I think,” he added.
“There’s a little bit of inconsistent bounce. Rooty said to me before I went in to bat the short balls sometimes really don’t get up, so it was a bit of a strange one, but I think when it does nip, it nips off the cracks, there are small bits of grass and that is where there is a bit of sideways movement for the seamers. “It does look quite dry, I think [Keshav] Maharaj got a few to spin. It does look like it could break up a little bit, so hopefully we can get a first-innings lead and take advantage of that.”