England’s youngsters “stood up to be counted” in the third Test victory over South Africa in Port Elizabeth, says coach Chris Silverwood.
Joe Root’s side completed an innings-and-53-run victory on Monday to take a 2-1 series lead with one Test left.
Ollie Pope, 22, hit 135 not out – his first Test hundred – and Dom Bess, 22, took his first Test five-wicket haul.
“The template of what we are trying to set out is starting to work,” Silverwood said.
“We have got youngsters coming through and scoring runs and as we have seen with Ollie Pope, and equally Dom Bess getting a first five-for as well.
“Again in another Test we have seen the youngsters stand up and be counted.
“It is fantastic for us to watch, fantastic for them and fantastic for the game of cricket as well.”
England have named five players aged 24 and under in their team for the past two Tests: batsman Pope, spinner Bess, all-rounder Sam Curran, opener Zak Crawley and fellow opener Dom Sibley, who also scored his maiden Test hundred in the second Test in Cape Town.
Surrey’s Pope, playing in his sixth Test, was named man of the match for his performance, which also included six catches, after he shared a crucial partnership of 203 in England’s first innings.
He batted patiently at first with his side under pressure before playing a range of attacking shots to allow England to declare on 499-9.
“For a young lad like Ollie to play in that manner, to go through the different gears and really show everyone he belongs at this stage is testament to his ability and character,” England captain Joe Root said.
“He wants to be involved and wants to be in the big moments and contribute which, from a young guy, is exactly what you are after.”
Bess’ maiden five-wicket haul came in the first innings, when he took 5-51 as England bowled their hosts out for 209 and enforced the follow-on.
He finished with match figures of 6-87 having not initially been part of the touring squad and only called up because of injury and illness before the second Test.
He made his England debut in May 2018 but was dropped to the second XI by his county Somerset and had to go out on loan to Yorkshire to play.
“What a journey he has had,” Root said.
“He has not taken a backwards step with his skills and has continued to improve his game. Now we are seeing it on this arena.
“It has been a tough time for him and we need to find ways of him playing more county cricket because he needs to be bowling regularly in first-class cricket so when he comes to different situations around the world in Test matches he is ready to go.”
The fourth Test begins in Johannesburg on Friday with England only needing to draw to win the four-match series and complete the turnaround from their defeat in the first Test in Centurion.
Root said injury and illness which hampered his side before and during the series opener had “bonded them tight” for the rest of the tour.
“The way we played in Cape Town gave us belief that we were more than capable of winning out here and we backed it up comprehensively here in Port Elizabeth,” he said.
“Going to Johannesburg we will be full of confidence and make sure we are ready to turn it on again.”
Article courtesy of BBC Sport