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Series Editorial

Ashes 2023: England ‘bewildered’ after umpires force Ollie Pope to field despite external blow

by Ben Gardner 3 minute read

England were left “frustrated” after Ollie Pope re-injured his shoulder in Australia’s second innings, having also done so in the first, having been told by the match officials that they would not be allowed a substitute if Pope did not field.

Pope has twice left the field holding his shoulder at Lord’s, once in each innings. In England’s first innings, he was able to bat at first-drop despite a lengthy absence. The ICC Playing Conditions state that if a player is off the field, they incur penalty time, and that they will not be allowed to bat until the penalty time has elapsed, or their side has lost five wickets. Additionally, they state that a substitute fielder will only be allowed if a player is absent due to injury, or for an “acceptable reason”. They also state that no penalty will be incurred if they are absent due to an “external blow”.

Given this, England felt that Pope would be allowed to be absent from the field in the second innings and still bat in his usual position, but were told that would not be the case. The playing conditions state that an external blow must leave a player “justifiably…unable to take the field” if penalty time is to be avoided, and with Pope having shown no discomfort during his time at the crease, it appears the officials felt any absence would not be justified.


Pope’s re-injury, in England’s eyes, will be taken as evidence that any absence would have been justified in the first place.

“He is sore but he should be okay to bat again tomorrow,” said England spin-bowling coach Jeetan Patel. “We’re a bit bewildered by it all. We haven’t clarified yet with the officials as to why he was told he had to get back out there and field. It’s a pretty tough situation when you nearly bust your shoulder and you’re told it was an external [injury], is it still an external, we don’t know?

“He had to go back out there. It was always going to happen, isn’t it? He’s so committed to this team he was always going to fall on something, and now he’s back off the field icing his shoulder. It’s a bit confusing. We assume that he was told he had to be back out on the field or else we had to field with 10 men, and that made no sense to me.

“It’s a bit messy if I’m honest with you. We’re probably as frustrated as everyone else out there that saw what happened, and him, and he’s probably more angry at the situation than anything else.”

It is understood that Pope’s second blow means he won’t be required to field for the remainder of the innings, and will still be able to bat at No.3.

You can bet on the 2023 Ashes with our Match Centre partners, bet365.

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