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Pope and Bess inspire youthful Three Lions to victory in Port Elizabeth.
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Ollie Pope’s memorable maiden Test century has helped him to move into the top five of the PCA’s Test Most Valuable Player Rankings, whilst Dom Bess’ first Test five-wicket haul in a man-of-the-match performance has also seen him move up the table significantly.
Pope, 22, played an innings that he will never forget to set the platform for England’s innings and 53-run win in the third Test in Port Elizabeth, a victory which enabled his side to take a commanding 2-1 lead in the four-Test series against the Proteas.
The 2018 PCA Young Player of the Year made an unbeaten 135 of England’s 499-9, and the runs were flowing in his and current Test MVP leader Ben Stokes’ scintillating 203-run fifth wicket stand in the first innings.
On top of his outstanding knock, Pope took a series of stunning catches at short leg, finishing the match with six in total. His 10 fielding MVP points across the winter, along with his 44 for batting, have enabled him to move up to fifth place in the Test standings behind the aforementioned Stokes, skipper Joe Root, Sam Curran and Stuart Broad.
Whilst Pope starred with the bat in Port Elizabeth, teammate and fellow youngster Bess led the way with the ball.
Bess, one of five players aged 24 or under in an emerging England side, claimed his maiden Test five-wicket haul as he took South Africa’s first five wickets to fall in the match, including those of both openers and opposition skipper Faf du Plessis.
The Somerset man finished the innings with impressive figures of 5-51 from his 31 overs as England skittled their counterparts for 209, and he received widespread praise for holding up an end whilst allowing skipper Root to rotate his pace attack in order to keep them fresh.
Bess earned the MVP of the Match award with 39.1 points, and has shot up to sixth position in the Test MVP, with a total of 51.28 bowling MVP points for 2019/20. That makes him England’s third most effective bowler this winter behind Curran and Broad, who have both appeared in over twice as many Tests as the young off-spinner in that period.
The Test MVP was designed by the PCA in conjunction with the players to identify the match-winning performers in any given fixture. On top of traditional batting and bowling averages, bonus points are awarded for scoring a high proportion of your team’s runs, claiming top-order wickets and taking catches in the field, amongst other important disciplines.
Talismanic all-rounder Stokes has retained his place at the top of the table going into the final Test of the series in South Africa, after he made a sumptuous 120 and took one wicket in yet another outstanding individual performance.
The 2019 NatWest PCA Players’ Player of the Year has 115 MVP points for the winter, three clear of skipper Root, who returned career best figures of 4-87 to maintain his hold on second position in the Test Rankings.
The experienced duo are well clear of youngster Curran (83 points) in third, whilst veteran fast bowler Broad (79 points) sits fourth.
The youthful nature of the current England side is illustrated by the presence of two more young players in the top ten, with Bess (54 points) and opener Dom Sibley (53 points) currently sitting sixth and seventh respectively.
This emerging England team will take great confidence from what was a crushing win in Port Elizabeth, as they head into the next fixture in their winter schedule which begins in Johannesburg this Friday.
View the England MVP Rankings here.
Keep up-to-date with all the latest MVP news by following the @pcaMVP on Twitter.