Ollie Pope: England back bad-light ideas that would help Test cricket be played in bearable conditions
England batsman blogs on Pakistan finale, epic frustration during the second Test, darts, Sibley's rare run-out and Woody's clinic
By Ollie Pope - @OPope32
Last Updated: 21/08/20 6:10pm
Ollie Pope blogs on how England plan to leave the bubble with a bang - and a series win - after playing darts during the frustrating weather interruptions at the Ageas Bowl...
The end of bubble-life is in sight so it's time for one last push.
The third Test looks likely to be our last Test this year so there's extra motivation to put another win on the board, especially after losing so much time to bad light and rain in the last game.
Our Old Trafford victory feels an age away after the frustrations of the last week.
Thankfully our hotel here at the Ageas Bowl is just across the ground from the changing rooms so when the weather did interrupt play we were able to go back to our rooms and switch off.
My darts are definitely better than they were at the start of the series but I'm still not peppering that triple 20 as much as Woakesy or Jimmy!
The players are 100 per cent keen to support any idea that helps us play as much cricket as possible when conditions are bearable, so there's plenty to discuss.
I don't regard batting in bad light against the Dukes ball as the biggest challenge in the game because of the white sightscreen, although it does make facing bowling that is consistently above 90mph more difficult.
Rather, I find it a little bit harder in the field to pick up the ball - for example if you're stood at backward point and the ball is slashed at you. Every now and again you just lose the ball completely.
The umpires were following protocols in the last Test and they've got to make decisions that are safe for the players, so I don't envy them.
One school of thought is to introduce a lighter-coloured ball when the light does deteriorate, or to even play the whole game with a pinker ball.
It's something we've spoken about as a team a little bit, in particular how the pink ball can react completely differently off the surface in comparison to the Dukes depending on conditions.
I missed the two Championship matches that Surrey played with the pink ball in 2017 but one observation from those games, and the day-night Tests that have been played, was how much the pink ball nipped around at the start of play and again when the lights came on in the evening.
In between, especially if the sun was out, it didn't really move off the straight, placing a greater emphasis on tactical declarations.
From a personal point of view I feel like I'm getting back to my best with the bat - I found a bit of momentum at the end of last series and the start of this one.
We all feel very fortunate to be playing this series given how 2020 has panned out so far.
I was sat with Dom Sibley the other day and we were chatting about the summer saying, 'it would have been amazing to play our first home series in front of packed crowds every day' but hopefully we'll have that in the years to come.
Now's the time when we've got to do everything that we can to help keep the game up and running and protect it for the future.
Naturally Sibley's run out of Shaheen Afridi 'happened' to come up in conversation!
He had a few issues with his throwing during some of the warm-ups in South Africa, which is why we were all laughing after the wicket because he said 'That's the first one I've thrown straight in months'!
Sibley was pretty chuffed with it, as we all were to be honest because when you get a run out like that on a pretty tough pitch it feels like a real bonus.
It was good to see Woody helping out with the kids' coaching clinic on Sky Sports during the Test as well - and it gave us a bit of time away from him!
Woody's a great guy and he loves giving advice, so he was a natural when it came to looking at the clips, and we all enjoyed watching him on the big screens.
Now it's time to crank up the intensity in training ahead of the final Test, our last in this bubble.
There are plenty of things I'm looking forward to once I'm allowed out but seeing my dogs, catching up with friends (socially-distanced if needs be) and going out for a morning stroll for a coffee top the list. They'd feel all the sweeter off the back of a series win.
Watch the third and final #raisethebat Test between England and Pakistan, live on Sky Sports Cricket from 10.30am on Friday.