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England vs West Indies, 2nd Test, Day 2: Gritty Dom Sibley bats, bats and bats

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He will just bat, bat and bat; and it’s normal if you get bored. He would get his first boundary on the 91st ball of his innings and just five throughout the knock; he would complete his half-century on the 164th ball of his innings; he would finish day 1 on a score of 86 runs and take about two hours on day 2 to register his second Test hundred. And, you don’t feel bored now, because he has bored you to such an extent that you start enjoying it. Yes, we are talking about the man in the limelight – Dom Sibley. 

The opening batsman played a mammoth knock of 372 balls and finished his knock with a strike rate of just over 32. So, we will break his knock in seven parts of 50 balls and the last remaining 22 balls as the eighth part.   


 

Sibley was cautious through the course of his innings. But his knock wasn’t perfect. He was dropped a couple of times and he got lucky because of umpire’s call on two instances. But, in red-ball cricket in England, surviving as long as 372 balls, you should expect this. According to ESPNcricinfo, his control percentage on both instances – day 1 and just when he completed his century – was 87. Pretty good, isn’t it?

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At the finish of the first session on Day 1, Sibley was batting on seven runs off 44 balls. On a damp pitch with inconsistent pace and bounce, Sibley wanted to get used to the deck. 

At the beginning of the second session, Roston Chase who had already picked two wickets tested Sibley a bit. And, even in the third-last over before the tea break, the struggle continued. On the second ball of the 44th over, the off-spinner bowled his stock delivery which Sibley played on the back-foot directed towards the forward short leg and luckily for Sibley, the fielder dropped the catch. The next ball was a straighter delivery but Sibley played for the turn and the ball missed the edge of the bat very marginally. Two escapes for the opener off two consecutive deliveries!

 

Let’s rewind a bit now. The first boundary which he scored came on the 91st ball of his innings (in the 28th over of the innings) against Shannon Gabriel who hardly found his rhythm on Day 1. Off a short ball which allowed him to free his arms because of the width, Sibley slashed hard and collected a four through the third man region. The second boundary he scored (off Holder’s bowling) was streaky as the ball found the edge of the bat and passed through the region between the second slip and the gully. After the second session on Day 1, his score was 46 off 145 balls with just two boundaries. 

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In the last session of the Day 1, Sibley again scored just two boundaries. He got a few chances but he survived to face 253 deliveries and get to 86, 14 runs away from his second Test century.

With just 14 runs required to complete a ton, you would expect the landmark to be achieved in a few overs. But, Sibley is old-school and he takes his time. He took nearly two hours on Day 2 to accumulate those 14 runs. The day started with the 83rd over.  Sibley completed his ton in the 106th over, taking over 60 balls to reach there. 

After completing his hundred, Sibley would go on to face 60 more balls to score 19 runs. He tried to accelerate and eventually fell to Chase as he danced down the track and miscued the shot, and Kemar Roach caught the ball at deep mid-wicket. 

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He was beaten, he edged, he got lucky and most importantly he left a lot of balls but he survived and scored runs, thanks to his sheer determination and excellent concentration.

 

According to CricViz, Sibley should have scored about 73 more runs than he actually did – based on the kind of deliveries he faced. But, if he had gone to chase those runs, possibly, he would not have lasted that long at the crease. When you watch Sibley, his stance is unusual, his technique is awkward and his batting is far from elegant. But that doesn’t matter. He has patience, grit and temperament and that works for him. 

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As is obvious now, Sibley might be a very good partner for Rory Burns at the top of the order. Since 2018 and before the debut of Sibley, the English openers averaged 26.72 with a dismissal rate of about 61. Among all the teams to have played at least five matches in this duration, the overall average of English openers was better than the openers of three teams only. 

The story has changed since Sibley’s debut. The English openers boast an average of over 42 since Sibley’s debut – the third-best in the world in this timeframe. The dismissal rate of about 61 has raised to over 105, only bettered by the Australian openers who have played 10 innings less than English openers in this period. 

 



Freelance Cricket Writer. I, a keen learner, write for my own satisfaction. Constructive feedbacks are always welcomed. Twitter - @mainlycricket