Ollie Pope claims England have devised a new plan to stop Steve Smith

Ollie Pope ramps up mind games ahead of the Ashes as England’s vice-captain claims hosts have devised a blueprint to stop Steve Smith after Aussie superstar dominated 2019 Ashes series

  • England are confident they have a plan to combat Australia batter Steve Smith
  • The Aussie made 774 runs at an average of 110.54 in the 2019 Ashes
  • Smith made 121 in the first innings of the WTC final against India 

England have come up with a new plan to combat the threat of the man they simply could not get out the last time they took on Australia in home conditions – Steve Smith.

Smith made an incredible 774 runs at an average of 110.54 in the 2019 Ashes despite suffering a concussion at Lord’s when he was struck on the head by Jofra Archer.

And he looked in superb touch in English conditions again at the Oval yesterday when he made 121 against India’s formidable attack in the World Test Championship final.

But Ollie Pope, now an official part of England’s ‘think-tank’ as vice-captain, said on Thursday that England’s bowlers are ready for Smith when they come up against him in the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston next week – with new funky plans.

‘I can’t say too much but there’s probably a slightly different plan for Smith this time,’ said Pope. 

Steve Smith made an incredible 774 runs at an average of 110.54 in the 2019 Ashes

The former Aussie captain played a vital role as the tourists retained the urn four years ago

Ollie Pope is confident England can neutralise Smith in the upcoming series

‘There’s a lot of talented bowlers in our changing room who have worked out ways to bowl at him – targeting both edges as well.

‘Steve Smith is a highly-skilled batter and scores a lot of runs but I think for him we will be looking at quirky ways to challenge him, test him out and make him as uncomfortable as we possibly can to try to get his wicket.’

Earlier this week, Pope said he was ready to step in as England’s emergency captain should Ben Stokes’s left knee not stand up to the rigours of five Ashes Tests in less than seven weeks.

Stokes has insisted he will bowl against Australia once the series begins at Edgbaston on June 16. 

But Pope, who started his reign as Test vice-captain with a double-century against Ireland at Lord’s, believes he has spent enough time watching Stokes go about his business to answer the call – if required.

‘Fingers crossed Stokesy’s body’s all good,’ he said. 

‘It’s going to take a hell of a lot for him not to be on the pitch even for a day’s play, knowing what he’s like. But if it did happen, I feel confident.

‘We’ve played a lot together as a team over the last year and a bit, and he knows how he wants the bowlers to operate, the kind of fields he sets, and tries to get players to hit balls in areas that they don’t normally want to hit in.’

Ollie Pope was speaking on behalf of Radox, the official shower gel of England cricket.

Source: Read Full Article