Ben Stokes and Ollie Pope both scored centuries as England took a firm grip on the third Test against South Africa, advancing to 426 runs for eight wickets at tea on the second day at St George’s Park here on Friday.
The 22-year-old Pope, who made his maiden ton, was even quicker to his 50 in the morning session but more circumspect after lunch.
Stokes scored 120 and was caught off the bowling of Dane Paterson, while Pope was 106 not out at tea. After rain delayed the start of play by 45 minutes, the England players came out with clear intent and quickly moved past 50 runs each, eventually putting on 203 runs for the fifth wicket.
Stokes’s century came off 174 balls, in the process passing 4,000 runs and becoming only the seventh Test cricketer to reach that figure and take 100 wickets. He managed to achieve the milestone in fewer Tests than England great Ian Botham. Pope survived a couple of scares on 75 and 84 before reaching his ton off 190 balls just before tea.
South African debutant Paterson got the prized wicket of Stokes, his maiden Test victim, as Dean Elgar caught him at cover point. Pope then put on 59 runs with 21-year-old Sam Curran, who bashed his way to 44 off only 50 balls before being caught in the deep. The southpaw handed left-arm spinner Keshav Maharaj his third wicket.
The orthodox bowler then had Dom Bess caught at silly point. Jos Buttler was the other wicket to fall, scoring just one before chipping the ball back to Maharaj.