England batter Ollie Pope could be a superstar in the making, according to former captain Michael Vaughan.
“He has been sporadic in Test cricket,” Vaughan told Test Match Special.
“That is the first time I’ve watched him and thought ‘there is a player of sheer class in Ollie Pope’. He played beautifully.”
Pope made his Test debut at the age of 20 during the series between these two teams in 2018.
Since then, he has been in and out of the side and shunted around the middle order. In one Test in New Zealand in 2019, he also kept wicket.
Whereas other young batters Dom Sibley, Zak Crawley and Dan Lawrence have been tried by England, Pope has been seen as the best prospect – he averages in excess of 50 in first-class cricket.
He has made one Test hundred, in South Africa in 2020, and returned after missing the first three matches of this series to register his first half-century in nine Tests.
“I have seen Pope play some nice knocks, particularly that hundred in South Africa,” said Vaughan, who captained in 51 of his 82 Tests.
“We haven’t seen enough in matches or behind the scenes to suggest he is a superstar in the making, but from what I saw today he could be.”
Surrey’s Pope is playing in his 20th Test, but his first on his home ground of The Oval, where he averages just under 100 in first-class cricket.
His effort helped England to 291 all out, with India then reaching 43-0 in their second innings, 56 behind.
“I was pretty gutted when I got out,” he told BBC Sport. “I worked hard. I felt really good and was disappointed with the shot I played to get out.
“It is bittersweet, but I’m happy with my contribution.”
Pope got his chance to return after Jos Buttler missed this Test to attend the birth of his second child. Jonny Bairstow took the keeping gloves and moved down the order to number six, creating a vacancy for Pope at five.
“Hopefully I can build on today and it’s just the start of a good run,” said Pope.
“You see the hunger from the guys at the top and they are never content with where they are.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to get right to the top of my game.”
After two days the fourth Test is delicately poised, with both sides having the chance to go 2-1 up in the series with one match left to play.
England are set to have to chase a target in the fourth innings of the match, with Pope expecting conditions to be good for batting for the remainder of the contest.
“We might have to toil a bit longer for our wickets. Hopefully we can get our rewards,” he said.
“We’ll back ourselves if we are set a decent total to chase because it will still be a good pitch.”