England batsman Ollie Pope has admitted that staying in a bio-secure bubble has been an “intense and challenging” experience, adding that his 91 in the third Test felt like “a weight off the shoulders”.
The 22-year-old struggled in the first two Tests against the West Indies with his top score being 12 not out.
However, Pope alongside Jos Buttler turned things around for the hosts, who were struggling at 122-4 at tea, to close the opening day of the series decider on 258-4.
The youngster eventually fell nine short of his second century as he was bowled out by Shanon Gabriel early on the second day on 91.
“It is nice to get a few (runs) and it does feel like a little bit of a weight off the shoulders,” Pope told ‘Sky Sports Cricket’.
“To miss out (in previous games) and to be in such an intense environment where we you are not able to see your family, has been a little bit challenging. You go back to your room and are overlooking the cricket pitch,” he added.
The series, that marked the resumption of international cricket, is being played behind closed doors in a bio-secure environment amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Pope said not being able to see his family has taken a toll on him but the team has been supportive of each other during this testing period.
“In the second innings (of the first Test) at Hampshire I got out late in the day and 20 minutes after getting out I was back in my room. I wasn’t able to go for a coffee or see my family and it ends up playing in your mind over and over again.
“It has got its challenges but you get around the lads, the lads get around you, and it is tight knit so if someone is struggling a bit mentally we have each other’s back.
“It is good to check in and see how people are doing because people have spent so much time with their family (during the coronavirus pandemic) and now they are not seeing them at all or having any contact,” Pope added.
The youngster said he learned a lot from former Sri Lanka skipper Kumar Sangakkara while playing at Surrey.
“I have always been a busy player, I was lucky enough to play with Sangakkara and a number of times he would nick a single off the first ball of the innings just to get off the mark.
“It’s a real good way of putting the bowler under pressure and not letting him bowl six balls at you.”