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Saturday, September 19, 2020

England vs West Indies: Sibley teaches the art of leaving, Stokes sizzles

Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley batted brilliantly on day two to put West Indies on the mat.

Written by Rahul Sadhu | Updated: July 18, 2020 3:42:03 pm
england vs west indies, dom sibley, dom sibley century, ben stokes England’s Ben Stokes fist bumps Dom Sibley after scoring 150 runs during the second day at Old Trafford in Manchester. (AP Photo)

Dom Sibley became the first cricketer to slam a hundred inside a bio-secure venue on Friday in the second Test against West Indies at Old Trafford, Manchester after losing 12 kgs during the coronavirus lockdown.

Sibley’s hard work paid off as he constructed an old-fashioned Test innings to bring up his second century in just 8 Tests. His hundred which came up in 312 balls (465 minutes) was a testament to his patience and self-awareness.

england vs west indies, dom sibley, dom sibley century, ben stokes England’s Dom Sibley celebrates after scoring a century during the second day at Old Trafford in Manchester. (AP Photo)

But his incredible powers of concentration are not something he developed of late. In September 2013, Sibley became the youngest player to hit a double century in a county championship match at the age of 18 and 21 days for Surrey. He scored 242 off 536 balls.

In Manchester, Sibley scored just four boundaries during his century against the Caribbean side. The last English batsman to make a ton with fewer boundaries was Graham Thorpe who did it against Pakistan back in 2000 with just one boundary.

england vs west indies, dom sibley, dom sibley century, ben stokes Dom Sibley is fifth on the list. (Source: screengrab)

Coming from the old school of cricket, Sibley’s go-to shot has been offering no shot and leaving the ball. Believe it or not, but no Test batsman has left more deliveries than Dom Sibley since the English opener debuted. Not once did he buckle under pressure despite scoring zero for 20 balls at a trot.

The Windies bowlers tried hard bowling wide, mixing up the length but to no avail.

england vs west indies, dom sibley, dom sibley century, ben stokes Dom Sibley has the most leaves in Tests since his debut. (Source: screengrab)

The criticism of Dom Sibley’s approach on social media, owing to his slow approach, has been rather ridiculous as he’s currently averaging 70 for the year. When Sibley scored his 88th run this morning, he passed the first milestone for a Test batsman — 500 runs in just his 8th game. His average for 2020 was already 71.17 at the start of play today, and it continues to rise.

Among English batsmen who average 45+ opening the batting since 1980 (min. 2 innings), Sibley is at number three behind Michael Vaughan Jack Leach.

In 2020, Sibley’s average has been 56.83 with one half-century, a century, and a decent strike rate of 40.12 – a reminder for anyone criticising Sibley for his slow approach.

Stokes sizzles

His partner at the other end, Ben Stokes took 255 balls to bring up his 10th and slowest Test hundred. But what was most incredible about the southpaw was his ability to change gears at will. For his fifty, Stokes batted 119 balls. From 50 to 100 he needed 136 deliveries. After showing such self-restraint for hours to get to his century, astonishingly, he needed just 46 more to reach 150.

Stokes also completed a double of 8000+ runs and 300+ wickets in first-class cricket in his 141st match. Only one Englishman has reached there in fewer matches – WG Grace (97 matches). He is also the second-fastest player to score 4000 runs and pick 150 wickets.

Along with Sibley, he recorded England’s first Test 200-run partnership at Old Trafford since 2001 (267 v Pakistan – Thorpe & Vaughan.)

Stokes also became the fifth player to achieve the double of 10+ Test hundreds and 150 Test wickets after Jacques Kallis (45 & 292), Garfield Sobers (26 & 235), Ian Botham – (14 & 383) and Ravi Shastri ( 11 & 151).

Stokes finally fell for 176 when he attempted an audacious reverse sweep of Kemar Roach.

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