Root was the unlikely destroyer with ball and Ollie Pope is a star

PLAYER RATINGS: Joe Root was the unlikely destroyer with the ball and a star is born in Ollie Pope… but Jos Buttler’s time as an England Test player could be ending

  • Ollie Pope made his first Test century for England in victory over South Africa 
  • Joe Root took five wickets with unlikely spell of spin bowling from captain 
  • Jos Buttler looks shot of confidence and his time in the side might be ending 
  • Kagiso Rabada’s overzealous celebration has cost South Africa dear 

England turned the Test series against South Africa around with victory in Port Elizabeth putting the tourists 2-1 up. 

Joe Root starred with the ball and Ollie Pope announced himself at the highest level but Jos Buttler struggled again. 

Here, Sportsmail’s Paul Newman and Neil Manthorp gives his player ratings from the third Test.  

England overcame South Africa in Port Elizabeth to take a 2-1 lead in the series 


Dom Sibley – 5.5

Wasn’t able to follow up his century in Cape Town with a substantial innings, but he helped England record their first unbroken first-innings partnership at lunch on the opening day of a Test for nine years.

Zak Crawley – 6

Getting better each time he bats. Made an intelligent technical change mid-series after the Cape Town Test and looks better for standing more leg-side of the ball in his stance.

Joe Denly – 5

Batted exactly 100 balls for his 25 and is becoming too vulnerable against spin in particular. England want their top three to occupy the crease for as long as possible after all the collapses, but it’s important to bat according to the situation as well.

Joe Root – 8.5

Batted frenetically but is showing signs of improved captaincy the younger the side get. An unlikely destroyer with the ball, even if he did bowl too long on the final morning. There is no doubt these two wins have been hugely important for the longevity of Root’s leadership.

Joe Root starred with the ball and spun his way to a first five-fer of his career

Ben Stokes – 8

England would have been in real trouble had Stokes fallen early on the first day. He had to ride his luck early on, most notably when giving a sharp short-leg chance on 10, but went on to make another superb century. Surprisingly fallible in the field, though.

Ollie Pope – 9

A star is born. We all knew how good Pope is and he proved it here. The only question now is how many Test centuries he will make and whether the grand old game lasts long enough for him to spend his whole career playing it. Excellent in the field at short leg, too.

Ollie Pope delivered his first Test century and picked up the Man of the Match award

Jos Buttler – 4

Is the most gifted of all England’s players coming towards the end in Tests? South Africa piled into him verbally after the ‘k***head’ incident with Vernon Philander, and he was unable to cash in on a situation made for him. Keeping was sloppy, too.

Sam Curran – 6.5

Did the job Buttler was expected to do with the bat by accelerating and backing up Pope. Took the key wicket of Quinton de Kock on the fourth day and the run out to win the game and save England further embarrassment. But he’s one of the players most vulnerable to Jofra Archer’s probable return in Johannesburg.

Dom Bess – 8.5

A success story for the turning pitches of Taunton and the Lions set-up that has turned Bess’s promise into achievement. A very timely emergence too with England’s spin cupboard looking bare. Suddenly a key figure in Sri Lanka in March.

Dom Bess enjoyed himself and caused problems for the South African batting line-up

Mark Wood – 8.5

wonderful return to international cricket for one of the most popular figures in the team. Sixes, an excellent catch and wickets in South Africa’s second innings. If he can stay fit, he’s world class.

Stuart Broad – 7.5

A clatter of stumps on the fourth morning testify to his fuller length after being fractionally short when England first bowled. A supporting role on this pitch, but will return to the scene of one of his greatest triumphs at the Wanderers while closing in on 500 wickets.


Dean Elgar – 3

Perfect pitch and opportunity for him to dig in but he never settled.

Pieter Malan – 4

Never had many scoring options before making his Test debut but he has even fewer with better bowlers.

Zubayr Hamza – 2

He’s a talented batsman but has gone backwards in his four Tests.

Zubayr Hamza has struggled in this series and might feel under threat for his position

Faf du Plessis – 5

Proactive on the first day and spent time at the crease in the second innings, but out of form.

Rassie van der Dussen – 2

Didn’t have a plan for the off-spinners — only had first and fifth gear.

Quinton de Kock – 3

Failed to cash in on three dropped catches. Played the worst shot of the Test in the second innings.

Vernon Philander – 2

Bowled a pathetic 16 overs from a total of 152 and didn’t take a wicket.

Keshav Maharaj – 6

Never gave up but finished with a highly expensive five for 180. Had fun slogging at the end.

Kagiso Rabada – 2

Whatever you think of how he celebrated Root’s wicket, he shouldn’t have done it. Cost his team dear.

Kagiso Rabada celebrated in Root’s face and his absence will cost the team dear

Anrich Nortje – 5

Tried his heart out but didn’t take his own advice to pitch the ball up more.

Dane Paterson – 3

Handed a Test debut because he pitches the ball up and swings it. Failed to do either.


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