Ollie Pope reveals England’s pursuit to burst Ashes dominance of Steve Smith, as the prolific Australian batsman once again notched up a century in the World Test Championship final. Smith displayed his aggressive batting prowess, scoring a magnificent 121 at the Oval, marking his 31st career century and seventh on English soil, where he has historically excelled.
It took India over five and a half hours and 268 deliveries to finally dismiss the 34-year-old. As Smith aims to replicate his stellar 2019 Ashes performance in England, where he amassed an impressive 774 runs in four Tests, Pope suggests that the home team may explore unconventional methods to dismiss the formidable batsman.
“He loves batting in England, over the years he averages over 60 here now. It’s obvious he knows these conditions and he knows his game inside out, so there’s a lot of respect for him,” said Pope.
“But there’s also a lot of talented bowlers in our changing room who have worked out ways we can challenge him. I can’t say too much but there’s probably slightly different plans this time.
“He maintains his routines – those slightly longer routines – before facing each ball, and he won’t be ready until he completes them all. His success stems from that stubbornness, both in his approach and his determination to score runs. That’s what has contributed to his success. exactly the bubble we’ve got to try and get him out of.
“Steve Smith is a highly-skilled batter and scores a lot of runs, but I think for him we might be looking at even quirkier ways to challenge him, test him out and make him as uncomfortable as we possibly can to try and get his wicket.”
While Smith’s Ashes record makes him an obvious target, Pope is still looking to leave his mark on the legendary rivalry.
During the previous series in 2019, he was nursing a dislocated shoulder and had a miserable time Down Under in 2021/22, making only 67 runs in three matches.
The five-Test Ashes series begins at Edgbaston on June 16.