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South Africa v England

‘I feel sorry for him’ – Pietersen praises Pope as England struggle

by Wisden Staff 3 minute read

England suffered a signature collapse on the first day of the second Test against South Africa at Cape Town to cede the advantage after winning the toss, but had one positive to take away in the form of Ollie Pope.

The Surrey right-hander finished the day unbeaten on 56, England’s only half-century of the day, despite five of the other six members of the top seven passing 25. His innings displayed great variations in tempo, with Pope starting slowly and content to go stretches without scoring, before opening his shoulders in the company of the tail.

“He’s played beautifully, I feel sorry for him,” Kevin Pietersen said of Pope on air. “His feet have been great, his hands have been great, his head’s been good, the intensity has been good, I feel sorry for him. He’s now batting with 10 and 11. Not one single batter has gone on on a wicket that we’ve all talked about how good it is for batting.”

Mark Nicholas, Pietersen’s co-commentator, wondered whether those watching had got their assessment of the pitch wrong, considering England’s struggles. “We’re sure about that are we?” he said. “Because if we are, it’s horrendous. People getting out for 30s and 40s when they’re in suggests a lack of concentration. It will be very interesting to see when England bowl and South Africa bat whether it is a hard pitch to force the pace on, if the pace is a little bit varied.”

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For South Africa, the spoils were shared around. All four seamers claimed two wickets apiece, while Keshav Maharaj claimed one wicket.

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