Belfast Telegraph

Losing Stokes cheaply was big blow, says Pope

Ollie Pope
Ollie Pope

By Rory Dollard

Ollie Pope accepts England let a chance slip through their fingers on the first day of the second Test against South Africa, with Ben Stokes' tame dismissal the catalyst.

England chose to bat first on a decent surface as they set out in pursuit of a series-levelling win in Cape Town, but reached stumps on a modest total of 262 for nine.

Pope was the unbeaten top-scorer on 56 not out and the tourists were never better positioned than when he and Stokes took the score to 184 for four with a handy partnership of 58.

Stokes was well set on 47 when an uncharacteristically reticent drive picked out Dean Elgar at cover.

"It's definitely a missed opportunity," said Pope.

"I'm sure Stokesy is pretty frustrated as well. He'll be as annoyed as anyone I'm sure. He was playing the aggressor role and I was just getting into my innings and finding my way, so it was a shame."

England's problems were not entirely of their own making, with the Proteas' five-man attack complementing each other expertly once again, but there will be considerable frustration that so many batsmen gave away solid starts.

Among the top seven, only rookie opener Zak Crawley fell cheaply, expertly unpicked by Vernon Philander for four in just his second international innings. All of the rest made at least 29, with only Pope reaching a half-century.

"When you get out in the 30s you've done the hard work. The hardest bit of batting is getting there," said Pope.

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