England, 1-0 down in the series after their innings thrashing in the opening Test at Mount Maunganui, dropped spinner Jack Leach for fast bowler Chris Woakes, with the latter joining Stuart Broad, Jofra Archer, Ben Stokes and Sam Curran in a pace quintet at Seddon Park in Hamilton.
Butcher was seething at that decision, as well as the fact Pope was forced to take the gloves following Jos Buttler’s knee injury with no front-line back-up keeper in the tourists’ squad.
“Blasé, fast and loose, call it what you like – it’s just nonsense,” Sky Cricket expert and former England batsman Butcher said after the XI was revealed.
Watch Butcher’s impassioned words in the video at the top of the page.
“Five seamers? If four quicks aren’t getting 20 wickets on a green one, then the fifth one is doing nothing anyway.
“Leach not playing is nonsense, to me. You have a world-class all-rounder [in Stokes] so you can always have a five-man attack and yet you are telling me you cannot get a spinner in that team?
“England aren’t going to have a spinner on this deck so I hope to goodness it swings all over place and the match is over in three days and they don’t need one further down the line.
“Four days is a long time in English Test cricket.
“You looked at the last 11 and thought, ‘that looks sensible, people are batting in their rightful positions, doing jobs they are used to doing’. Four quicks, a spinner, and a keeper at No 7. It all looked perfect.
“Four days later, an injury to Buttler, and someone has just dropped a bomb on the whole thing. It looks much as England sides have done over the last two or three years – a mix and match.”
Surrey batsman Pope had only kept in five first-class matches heading into the second Test and Butcher says he was “annoyed” that the 21-year-old had been thrust into the position.
“I don’t think I have ever been on a tour where you didn’t take a reserve keeper,” added Butcher, after Pope dropped a spot to No 7 and Zak Crawley, who opens for Kent, made his debut at No 6.
“I am annoyed, actually. I am annoyed for Pope. Here is a kid who averages 60-odd in first-class cricket at a time when batters are struggling for runs.
“He makes his debut [against India in 2018] out of position at No 4 – a place he’d never batted before – and now he is being asked to keep wicket when he hasn’t kept wicket for Surrey for years.
“He’s batting at six, batting at seven, where is he?
“England have been accused in the past of being fast and loose with the norms of the game, filling the side with all-rounders and saying ‘we’re going to do it in a way that’s never been done before’. It didn’t work out so well.”
Watch England’s second Test in New Zealand live on Sky Sports Cricket.