England's Ollie Pope admits the Ashes tour was 'brutal' as Australia claimed a thumping series win
"It was a brutal trip. It didn't go to plan from the moment we landed really"; England batter Ollie Pope says he will use the disappointing Ashes defeat in Australia as motivation; the Surrey batter also says captain Joe Root has the backing of "every single player"
By Sam Drury
Last Updated: 05/02/22 9:05pm
Ollie Pope has admitted that the recent Ashes tour was "brutal" as England were comprehensively beaten by Australia.
The hosts claimed a 4-0 series win and managing director Ashley Giles and head coach Chris Silverwood have paid the price for England's failure to compete, with both sacked this week.
Pope was part of an England batting line-up that struggled throughout the series, managing just 67 runs at 11.16 in six innings, but now wants to use the disappointment to drive him on.
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"It was a brutal trip," he told Sky Sports. "It didn't go to plan from the moment we landed really, there was a load of rain in Brisbane, we couldn't really train outdoors and do our warm-up [matches], which was frustrating.
"You get yourself in a good mental place for the first game but, if we're being honest, it went downhill from there. I think as a kid, [The Ashes in Australia] is everything you dream of and in the back of your mind, you want it to go that way and lift the trophy, score a lot of runs. Obviously, for a lot of us, it didn't go to plan.
"It was tough out there, but you can use it in your career, especially from a personal point of view, only being 24, to show what you need to do to improve and be successful in every country at the top level.
"I will use it to spur me on a little but more and highlight some slight changes I need to make. It was a tough trip and some very valuable lessons have been learnt going forward.
"Absolutely [I will be better for it]. I'm looking forward to getting a bat back in my hand and whatever is next, hopefully the West Indies. I'm excited for the next challenge and I've learnt a lot from it."
While Giles and Silverwood lost their jobs following the debacle in Australia, Joe Root will stay on as captain for next month's tour of the West Indies.
Former England skipper Nasser Hussain says Root is a "lucky lad" to have retained the position but Pope insists the Yorkshireman maintains the full support of the players, pointing to the 27 Test wins under his leadership, the most of any England captain.
"I think he has got the backing of every single player," the Surrey right-hander said. "We've seen what he can do as a player but he's also got, I'm not sure what the numbers are, but he's England's most successful captain as well.
"His batting has gone to a new level and as the people around him, we know that we haven't scored the runs to back that up. It shouldn't always be the captain that is punished for that.
"He's got the backing of the players and he's got a pretty calm head on him as well so that's probably the reasons why he's staying on in the role."
'County pitches don't help consistent batting technique'
The manner of England's defeat Down Under has fired up the debate over the state of county cricket once more and Pope gave his take on the issues that make it most difficult to step up to the international game.
"At the minute, a lot of county cricket that is played is very different to Test cricket," he said. "You can look at the pitches, I'm lucky to play at The Oval and the pitches are very good a lot of the time.
"It's great being a batsman at The Oval, but a lot of the time you go to somewhere and it's a green top. So, from a batting point of view, I feel like you've almost got to change your technique, change your stance a little bit, change where you bat so it doesn't allow you to necessarily become very consistent in your method.
"You've got to play a different brand of cricket sometimes if you want to be successful on some of the pitches that are out there.
"It probably stems from the pitches because a 75mph bowler may have more success than a 90mph bowler, so you don't face the 90mph bowlers anywhere near as much as you do in international cricket."
Despite the challenges of playing domestic red-ball cricket and the riches to be made playing in T20 franchises leagues around the world, Pope is confident that young players will continue to strive to play Test cricket.
"I think so and as long as the best players in the world, the Virat Kohlis, Joe Roots keep playing red-ball cricket and promoting it like they do, in such an exciting way, then absolutely you'll see guys wanting to be the next Test batter. Even as a young player in English cricket, I feel that 100 per cent as well. That is still the priority in a lot of players' minds."