ENG vs WI | Old Trafford Day 1 Talking Points - Holder’s masterstroke and Dom(inant) Sibley’s determination

ENG vs WI | Old Trafford Day 1 Talking Points - Holder’s masterstroke and Dom(inant) Sibley’s determination

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Talking points from Day 1 of Old Trafford



Spicy off-field controversy, a rain-delayed start and openers playing and missing in the very first over: the Old Trafford Test couldn’t have been more English even if it tried. While there were no ‘mad’ passages of play, Day 1, still, planted the seeds for what could be a riveting contest.

Brief scores: England 207/3 (Sibley 86*, Stokes 59* and Roston Chase 2/53) at stumps on Day 1

Chase-ing breakthroughs: the Jason Holder way 

The quick turnaround between Tests was always going to be a factor, and it didn’t take long for both Kemar Roach and Shannon Gabriel to prove the same. While Gabriel channelled his inner Steve-Harmison-from-the-2007-Ashes, spraying the ball wide to the left of Dowrich to give the keeper some early diving exercise, Roach, too, was uncharacteristically inaccurate. For six overs, the duo looked like they had taken an oath to let the new ball go to waste. But skipper Holder was having none of it. 

As early as the 6th over, he brought both himself and Joseph on to the attack - both of whom were a zillion times more accurate - but it was his masterstroke right at the stroke of lunch which shook England and took them by surprise. In just the 14th over, Holder tossed the ball to Roston Chase and, remarkably, the offie struck TWICE in his first three deliveries - removing Burns and Crawley - to reduce England to 29/2.  The turn on offer was mind-boggling but one presumes England won’t be too bothered by it; they do, after all, have the better spinner and it’s the Windies who will be batting last.  

Either way, those two wickets were all about Holder and his leadership. He could have easily been reactive, but, instead, he chose to be proactive and that, ultimately, was what brought about the breakthroughs. First real sign in this series of Holder directly influencing the game through his captaincy.

Is Joe Root possessed by the spirit of the 2014 Virat Kohli?

Joe Root is such a bundle of energy; he’s a viewer’s delight. Within moments of arriving at the crease today, he started getting busy and instantly lit up the game that, up until his arrival, was pretty much dead. But his enthusiasm aside, the English skipper has a major problem at his hands that, if not addressed, could endanger his whole career - his uncontrollable urge to throw his hands at anything marginally outside off-stump. After flashing at anything and everything fourth stump and beyond throughout the innings, it was unsurprising that his demise today was triggered by a wild drive that he should never have attempted in the first place. 

But this is a growing, concerning pattern that’s starting to consume him. Five of Root’s last eight dismissals - dating back to the Centurion Test in December -  have been him nicking off to either the keeper or the slip cordon after attempting an extravagant drive and there seems to be no end to his urge to flash outside off. And this is not something that has come out of the blue: the entirety of the 2019 Ashes was also him perishing either due to a reckless, misjudged drive or being caught dead in front of the stumps trying to consciously curb himself from going after the balls outside off. He’s shown the world that he loves to drive, but it’s high time that he learns from Dom Sibley how to leave. 

Dominic Sibley is ironing out his flaws, and it’s bad news for the Windies

Would it be fair if I run a petition to use ‘Sibley’ as the unit of patience? I’ve never watched Sir Geoffery Boycott bat, and all I know of him is through the anecdotes narrated by my father and a few commentators, but I imagine if he ever created an opening batsman, that player would somewhat resemble Dom Sibley. With every innings, he seems to be growing manifold as a batsman and, while it’s way too premature, he does look like a god-given Alastair Cook successor.

Today Sibley brought up his second consecutive fifty-plus score of this series, but more than his score, it was his patience and grit - not for the first time -  that stood out. At 29/2, with Chase having taken two wickets in two balls, England so desperately needed a calm, reassuring presence that could weather the Windies storm and in the form of Sibley, they got just that. It wasn’t until 28 overs and 91 balls that he hit his first boundary - which was a wide loosener from Gabriel which deserved the treatment - and through his approach, the right-hander literally ground the Windies bowlers to death. And it was much needed, indeed. 

But there were two important and fascinating sub-plots attached to his knock that could very well be defining: him tackling spin and him battling his supposed weakness, i.e. the ball aimed towards his arm-pit. Having been susceptible to both the aforementioned things in his first 12 international knocks, and even in the first Test of this series, the Surrey-born opener consciously battled his demons and conquered them with ease. Only time will tell if it’s a one-off, but he sure does seem to be becoming a better batsman with every knock he plays. 

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