Joe Root described Ollie Pope as ‘ready’ to make an impact as a Test cricketer, after the England number 6 put in a man-of-the-match performance in his side’s win over South Africa.
Pope emerged as England’s new middle-order hope in hitting an unbeaten first-innings 135 in Port Elizabeth – and his skipper was delighted to see the 22-year-old make his maiden century.
"I think everyone's been in that position where you desperately want something," said Root of Pope’s desire to reach three figures.
"You don't want to get to that position that other players have been in, with five, six, seven fifties to their name and the feeling that it's never going to come. But for Ollie to get a hundred this week was a massive marker for himself – and for Test cricket in general really, seeing a very talented young player show that he's ready for this.
"He's a wonderful talent, he's got such a brilliant game on him, and when you see someone with that ability, once they believe it themselves then I suppose the sky's the limit for them.”
The visitors held the upper hand for the entirety of the contest at St George’s Park, hitting 499-9 dec before skittling the Proteas twice to secure victory by an innings and 53 runs.
"This game has been a brilliant template for us moving forward"
And Root feels the game can serve as a blueprint for Test success going forward.
"I think this game has been a brilliant template for us moving forward: big first-innings runs, a big partnership in there, and then really driving the game," he said.
"I couldn't be more proud of the group, and for the young lads to be stepping up yet again, and showing that they're more than capable to perform at this level.
“I very much feel like the guys are listening to my message and the way we want to play the game.
“And now, because we're starting to see results, it's really feeding through the group and long may that continue."
Nottinghamshire’s Stuart Broad enjoyed another fruitful game with the ball, with a devastating 16-ball spell on the fourth morning yielding three wickets without conceding a run.
It was a performance which took his career Test tally to 483 wickets, and which drew praise from his captain.
“Broady, yesterday and this morning, was finding still different deliveries and being open-minded enough to not just run and bowl seam-up, but to try legcutters and cross-seam balls as well,” he said.
“At his age, to still now be finding ways to take wickets on flat pitches is really impressive."
Test cricket returns to Trent Bridge in August 2020, with Pakistan taking on England from 20-24 August. Secure your seats here...