Ben Stokes compared Rory Burns to England great Alastair Cook as he forecast a long international future for the Surrey opening batsman.
The 29-year-old Burns made a hundred in the opening Test of this year’s Ashes series and was one of England’s few successes during their recent series loss in New Zealand, with the left-hander averaging 61.33.
England have struggled to field reliable top-order partnership since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012 and the problem only intensified when Cook, his successor as captain, called time on his Test career last year.
But star all-rounder Stokes believes England are at least halfway to solving the problem now that Burns has started to consolidate his place in the side.
“We have found a gem in Rory Burns,” Stokes told talkSPORT radio on Tuesday. “He is going to have a long future.
“He is similar to Alastair Cook in the way he operates, occupying the crease and looking to spend time out in the middle to score his runs.
“When we first saw him train with us in Sri Lanka, although he didn’t get off to a great start and get the big runs, there was something about him that you could say, ‘yes, he is a Test match opening batsman’.
England vice-captain Stokes added: “That hundred he got in the Ashes was fantastic, he got a brilliant hundred in New Zealand too.
“He has got everything there to be a very successful opener for England over a long period of time.”
Support for Sibley, Archer
Burns opened alongside Dominic Sibley in New Zealand, with the 24-year-old managing just 38 runs in three innings.
Nevertheless Stokes, speaking ahead of England’s tour of South Africa later this month, pleaded for patience when it came to assessing Sibley.
“Dom has got the key things and the basic things to be a successful opener.
“I am not sure if people have already written him off after not doing too well, but you need to give players like that time to take that next step, to understand what changes they need to make with their technique because the wickets are different, and the bowlers are quicker in Test match cricket.”
Stokes, the favourite to win the BBC Sports Personality of the Year award on Sunday following his starring role in England’s World Cup triumph and astounding match-winning hundred against Australia at Headingley, also urged critics to lay off Jofra Archer.
The fast bowler turned in several superb displays after making his England debut earlier this year but found life tough on the flat pitches he encountered in New Zealand, taking a mere two wickets in the two-match series at an expensive average of 104.50.
“When you achieve what he achieved in such a short space of time you are expected to do it day in, day out, but that is just impossible,” said Stokes.
“He is 24. He doesn’t have that much experience. He is still learning how to bowl properly in different conditions.
“You have to afford him leeway and understand that he is still maturing as a player. You cannot expect him to take four for 50 in every innings.”