loading...

06 January 2020 14:35

County Championship Jamie Porter Cricket

Dom Sibley reached his maiden Test century as England smashed 157 runs before lunch on day four at Newlands to assume total control of the second Test. The opener started the day 15 runs short of three figures and while he edged steadily towards that milestone, Ben Stokes was taking the South Africa attack apart at the other end. Dom Sibley reached his maiden Test hundred from 269 balls After Sibley played out a maiden to start the day, the second new ball was available but in a decision he may live to regret, South Africa captain Faf du Plessis opted not to take it. Stokes took a couple of overs to play himself in but then launched Dwaine Pretorius back over his head for six and followed it up with a reverse sweep for four. Kagiso Rabada almost cut it short when he got Stokes to top-edge a pull shot, the ball spiralling high into the legside, Quinton de Kock sprinted from behind the stumps and dived to try and take the catch, but it just evaded his grasp.

Stokes powered on to reach his half-century off 34 balls but in the following over it was all about Sibley. From there, he kicked on with a couple of boundaries and a first six off Maharaj after Stokes' brilliant knock came to an end when he drilled the ball to long on to give the left-arm spinner his first wicket of the innings. Ollie Pope (3) dragged onto his stumps off Rabada and Jos Buttler, after a brief cameo of 23 from 18 balls, was caught behind trying to ramp Anrich Nortje as England went after quick runs. Sam Curran (13no) batted positively alongside Sibley (125no) to take the side through to lunch and there was some encouragement for the England bowlers late in the session as Pretorius got one to spit up off a length to hit Curran - not a sight to please the South Africa batsman. So imagine what it must have been like for South Africa's bowlers as he ground his way to a maiden Test half-century in Cape Town.

Dominic Sibley nears century to put England in control against South Africa Read more But if he can kick on from this breakthrough innings – which could yet become a century after he finished the day unbeaten on 85 – he might win plenty of Test matches for England. Whatever your stylistic critique on the 24-year-old, after years of top-order instability Sibley, who we should remember is playing only his fourth Test, is exactly what England need. Indeed, his innings on day three at Newlands went a long way to helping Joe Root's team take complete control of this second Test. Even though he was glacially slow, Sibley scoring just three off his first 30 deliveries and taking 50 overs to reach his half-century, he provided the platform for others to play around him. It is exactly the kind of approach that this team, who for so long have seemingly struggled to get out of white-ball mode in Test cricket, have been craving.

By the close, with England 218 for four and leading by 264, only one result appears possible here – a first overseas Test victory in 11 months for Root's team. His call-up for the tour of New Zealand earlier this winter followed a summer when he was the leading run-scorer in Division One of the County Championship, scoring five centuries along the way, including two doubles. Tellingly, it was not just the volume of runs Sibley amassed but the way he got them – facing 1,009 more balls than any other batsmen in the top tier of the Championship. Speaking before his Test debut against New Zealand at Mount Maunganui in November, Sibley spoke about his approach, saying: "Opening the batting is tough at the start so you've got to face balls for it to get easier. A more open stance, to prevent him from falling towards the off-side, and hitting straighter has helped unlock the potential that was evident in 2013 when Sibley, aged 18 and 21 days, become the second-youngest English player, behind only WG Grace, to hit a first-class double hundred.

Dom Sibley celebrated an unbeaten maiden Test hundred and Ben Stokes enjoyed an attacking masterclass as England paved the way for a series-levelling victory over South Africa in Cape Town. Sibley converted his overnight 85 into 133 not out as England piled on the runs at Newlands, declaring on 391 for eight in the afternoon session with a lead of 437, comfortably into world record chase territory. South Africa initially declined to take the second new ball, but if they thought the old one would be harder to hit, they were soon advised otherwise. They continued for 22 minutes after lunch, losing Sam Curran to the third ball of the session, but Joe Root called his men in with the target 20 clear of the best-ever chase in Test history. Dominic Sibley, at 24, may have many younger peers in this particular team, but this is only his fourth Test match and it is the first time that he has delivered an innings of significance. Joe Root, at the other end for two and a half hours, was looking on admiringly as Sibley batted like a pragmatic old pro, which is exactly what he has been hired to do. South Africa added only eight more runs before he edged to Ben Stokes at second slip off Anderson. Perhaps even more important than this little stash of records, England had a first innings lead of 46, South Africa having lost their last seven wickets for 66. Facebook Twitter Pinterest Jimmy Anderson celebrates dismissing Kagiso Rabada with the first ball of the day. By then England were 155 runs ahead and Joe Root was in no mood to spend the rest of the afternoon kicking away deliveries from Maharaj.