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Speaking on Sky Sports Cricket, commentator Michael Holding explained how Dom Sibley’s marathon innings of 120 might have hindered rather than helped the chance of an England victory in the second Test against West Indies at Manchester.
Sibley’s innings occupied 372 balls, the longest by an England opener not named Alastair Cook since 2003. He finished with a scoring rate just below one run every three balls, and Holding felt that Sibley looked to have open his shoulders earlier than he did, with virtually the right-hander’s first shot in anger leading to his dismissal, caught in the deep by Kemar Roach off Roston Chase.
“Well I understand that Sibley does play the shortest form of the game,” said Holding before Sibley’s dismissal and after he reached his century. “Strike-rate of 122 in that form so he has to have some shots somewhere. At this point, the message should have been at tea [lunch] time, pull out those shots. If you get out at this stage, don’t worry. We have Pope, we have Buttler, we have Woakes. Time is the essence I would think, especially with the weather forecast tomorrow.”
There is rain set for tomorrow, and with West Indies currently in possession of the Wisden Trophy, England must win to maintain their hopes of wresting the ornament. Holding said, from a West Indies point of view, Sibley’s was a “great innings” and said that even if some selfishness could be understood as the youngster approached three figures, that should have gone out the window after he passed the milestone.
“That word doesn’t come into my vocabulary at all when I’m playing for a team, ‘selfish’,” Holding continued after Sibley’s dismissal. “Maybe that’s the way cricket has become in this England team because of the pressure in years gone by. I think, though, the selection policies that we have seen in this England team these days, that word should go out of the vocabulary of any cricketer on this team.
“OK, even if you say he has to be selfish, he has to make sure he gets these three figures – he got them a long time ago. It’s now time for the team. As I said, no big thing if he gets out. His strike-rate was in the 30s. Thirty-odd runs every hundred balls. You can’t play cricket depending on the weather, but at the same time you still have to think about the possibility of losing some overs tomorrow.
“If I put on my West Indies cap, great innings. Rain tomorrow, even better. A draw for the West Indies is fantastic. But just purely cricket, OK you want to make sure you get to three figures, but after that, try to expand, as we saw with his Twenty20 statistics there. Better than a run a ball his strike-rate, he could then think ‘OK, this is what my team now needs.’”