England consider sticking with Pope as wicketkeeper for second Test against Pakistan

By Sports Desk December 07, 2022

Ben Stokes says England are mulling sticking with Ollie Pope as wicketkeeper for the second Test against Pakistan which starts in Multan on Friday.

Pope stepped in with the gloves for the ill Ben Foakes in England's 74-run first Test win in Rawalpindi, making 108 in the first innings. Foakes was one of numerous England players hit by illness on the eve of the first Test but was unable to take his place.

Pope, 24, has made three centuries in 31 Tests but kept wicket for only the second time in his Test career in Rawalpindi.

If Pope retains the gloves, England could bring in fast bowler Mark Wood, replacing the injured Liam Livingstone, to bolster their attack which was burdened with a heavy workload in the first Test.

"We found ourselves in that situation and still picked a team that was strong enough to win. We'll consider all our options," Stokes said.

"I think there are a few different options we are going to lay out in front of each other, and try and understand what is the best option to try and win this Test match. Because we have got a few other factors that we have to contend with.

"That's the great thing about where we're at at the moment… As I said, we are going to have a conversation at some point about what we feel is the best route to go."

Beyond Pope's century, he had a mixed Test with the gloves, dropping a catch in Pakistan's first innings, while spurning an opportunity in the second innings with one wicket left.

Pope also pulled off a smart stumping to dismiss Zahid Mahmood along with an acrobatic one-handed catch down the leg side to dismiss the same player in the same innings as England pushed for victory.

Wood has only just returned from a long-term elbow injury, with Stokes adding his availability was "an added bonus".

Another factor impacting selection is the morning smog in Multan, which could delay the start of play, potentially shortening the number of overs available if there is bad light late in the day, like which occurred on four of the five days in Rawalpindi.

"We'll have a sit-down discussion and we'll find a way to pick a team which we find is best to win the game, with those two things: the start time potentially delayed and coming off early because of the light," Stokes said.

"We could end up having only 300-350 overs in the Test match. We might have to get even a bit more adventurous with what we do. We'll see."

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