With the dust now having settled on what was a crazy final day at Newlands, it is important to reflect on an impressive five days of cricket for the England side.
After the dramatic events on day five, much of the plaudits have, deservedly, gone to Ben Stokes. At this point, it is difficult to know what to say about England’s miracle man, who produced a magical spell in the last hour–taking three wickets to wrap up the win for Joe Root’s men.
Stokes was named as the man of the match, a decision that it is near impossible to argue against, but one player that was very unfortunate to miss out on that award was Dom Sibley.
The opening batman’s impact on the game should not be underestimated. With Zak Crawley replacing Rory Burns for the second Test, Sibley, in just his fourth game, suddenly had the responsibility of being the experienced man at the top of the order.
England’s bowlers swung the momentum on day two but it was their batsman that allowed them to take complete control on days three and four.
Missed our full review of the second Test? Catch up with it here.
Sibley was integral to that and hit his maiden Test match century at Newlands–we put a spotlight on his innings to examine just how impressive it was.
England have drawn criticism in recent years for their perceived inability to dig in, with some suggestions that the focus on white-ball cricket was to blame. What Sibley produced on days three and four at Newlands was an attritional, gritty performance and one that will surely have pleased the Test cricket purists.
The Three Lions led by a narrow margin (46 runs) heading into their second innings but with almost three days left of the Test, what they had in their favour was time, and Sibley made the most of that.
The Warwickshire batsman was at the crease for 497 minutes–over eight hours–facing 311 balls in total and seeing through two new balls. At times, it wasn’t glamorous but it was necessary.
Part of an opener’s role is to protect the middle order and build a foundation for them to kick-on from. Sibley did exactly that at Newlands and he should take some credit for the swashbuckling innings of Root (61 in 98 balls) and Stokes (72 in 47 balls).
That is not to say it was a boring innings from the 24-year-old, who was far from Boycott-esque. Sibley, who hit 19 fours and even a six when England looked to press the accelerator, finished with a respectable strike rate of 42.76.
With Burns sidelined for up to four months following his injury, it will have been particularly pleasing for Silverwood and Root to see the young opener flourishing in a pressure situation. It may be early days but Sibley looks a bright prospect and someone that fans will be understandably excited about.
Sibley deserves lots of credit for what was a game-changing knock in the second Test. The key thing now is that the 24-year-old builds on it, both in this series and beyond.