Ollie Pope is England’s best young player since Joe Root – Michael Vaughan – BBC Sport

Highlights: Pope stars for England on gripping day

Former England captain Michael Vaughan says Ollie Pope is England’s best young player since the emergence of current skipper Joe Root.

Pope, 22, stroked an elegant 91 not out on the first day of the third Test against West Indies to help the hosts to 258-4.

“He’s a wonderful player,” Vaughan told Test Match Special.

“I don’t see a great deal going wrong with his game. It can pretty much cover all conditions.”

Surrey’s Pope made his England debut as a 20-year-old against India in 2018, but was left out after playing only two matches.

He returned for the tours over the past winter and made his maiden century against South Africa in January, along with three other half-centuries.

Root was 21 when he made his Test debut in India in 2012. The deciding Test against West Indies is his 94th, during which time he has accumulated 7,661 runs.

Ollie Pope averages 57 in first-class cricket

“Ollie Pope is the best young player I’ve seen in the England team since Joe Root,” added Vaughan, who himself made 5,719 runs in 82 Tests.

“When he came on the scene a few years ago you could tell he probably wasn’t ready in his mind.

“His game was possibly ready, but he wasn’t ready to cope with the big surroundings of Test match cricket and the spotlight that you’re under.”

Pope’s classy innings at Emirates Old Trafford helped England from 122-4, a potentially perilous position.

He added an unbroken 136 with Jos Buttler, who is unbeaten on 56, to leave the hosts with a superb opportunity to win the series.

When told about Vaughan’s praise, Pope said: “It’s a massive compliment, especially from an ex-captain and one of the greats.

“I take it as a massive positive, rather than seeing it as added pressure. It’s a nice thing to have said about you and hopefully I can fill those shoes.”

With the three-match series poised at 1-1, England need to win in Manchester to regain the Wisden Trophy, which they surrendered to the West Indies in the Caribbean at the beginning of 2019.

Victory for West Indies would mean their first series success in this country since 1988, while England are also trying to protect a six-year unbeaten home record.

The outcome could be affected by the weather, with rain forecast at various points across the rest of the match.

“Hopefully it doesn’t affect it too much,” said Pope. “If we can bat big then the dream scenario would be to get them in, make them follow-on and go again.”

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