Ollie Pope ‘itching’ to get back scoring runs after ‘frustrating’ tour of India

England batter Ollie Pope is “itching” to play again after reflecting on the mistakes he made during a frustrating tour of India as an individual and a team.

Pope starred in a remarkable first Test win in Hyderabad with a sparkling 196, but failed to go beyond 39 in his next eight innings and was out for a pair in Ranchi.

It was a similar story for a number of his team-mates with India able to win the final four Tests comprehensively to inflict the first series defeat of the Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum reign.

The series marked Pope’s return to action after he dislocated his right shoulder during the Ashes last summer.

While the 26-year-old spent most of the winter on the road, he was back training for Surrey on Monday and is eyeing plenty of Vitality County Championship runs before the home Test series with West Indies in July.

“Straight back into it – our choice. I feel pretty fresh,” Pope said at a sponsors event for Swiss watch brand Rado, the England and Wales Cricket Board’s official timing partner.

“Obviously I had that seven months out and leaving that India tour, if I had scored another three 70s or something, I might be feeling slightly differently but I almost feel frustrated.

“I feel like I’m in really good nick without putting together those scores, so hopefully I can go and find that rhythm of putting together big scores… at three, unless Stewie (Alec Stewart, Surrey director of cricket) drops me!

“I might miss one in that first seven or eight games, but yes, I’m itching to get back and just scoring runs and representing Surrey.”

The first assignment for Pope could be a battle with Australia spinner Nathan Lyon, who has signed for Lancashire, in next week’s opener at Old Trafford.

Pope has faced plenty of spin this year and, after he started the India series with the fifth Test hundred of his career, anticipated a productive series.

However, rather than add to his tally of centuries, England’s vice-captain suffered a string of low scores, with his frenetic nature at the start of his innings a major talking point.

“I understand it,” he said. “I think the issue for me in that series is something that I’ve worked hard on in England and I’ve got better, I think, to make myself a bit more consistent in these English conditions.

“In that second innings of the first Test when I made that score, I tried to be busy, so I think it is a fine line. When it doesn’t go right, it looks frenetic. When it does go right, it looks busy and good.

India England Cricket
Pope walks off after being dismissed on day one of the fifth Test in Dharamshala (Ashwini Bhatia/AP)

“I wanted to find a way of putting pressure back on the Indian spinners to get them to bowl more bad balls, which worked perfectly on that pitch on the first Test but probably wasn’t required as much on the pitches in the rest of the series.

“So, I think that was probably my biggest mistake that I made.

“Rather than having to feel like I’ve got to find a way of getting them off their best ball, you might get the odd ball but you can always trust your defence a little bit more.

“I remember leaving that first Test and thought, ‘I’m going to score a heck of a lot of runs in this series’, and that’s the frustrating thing from my point of view – that I didn’t adapt my game quick enough in different conditions.”

Pope will aim to make amends this summer and help ‘Bazball’ get back on track after losing six of their last 10 Tests to India and Australia.

“At the end of day two in three of the games, we were right side by side with India and that’s probably the most frustrating thing about it,” Pope reflected on the 4-1 loss.

“We just weren’t able to drive it home like they were when they got a lead. That’s why we look back on that series with a lot of – I’m not going to say regret – but just disappointment.

“If we want to become the best team in the world, we need to find a way of winning in India and Australia really.

“And to do that we need to consistently be scoring big runs, which we’ve done at times, and taking 20 wickets every game.

“Tightening a few loose screws will make us a much better team and allow us to hopefully drive games forward.”