MANCHESTER: Dom Sibley’s painstaking unbeaten 86 helped England recover from an early collapse to be 207-3 at stumps on the first day of the second Test against the West Indies at Old Trafford on Thursday.
Warwickshire opener Sibley batted out the day’s 82 overs during more than six hours at the crease on the way to posting his second successive fifty of the series.
England, in a match they have to win to level the three-match contest, were in trouble at 29-2 after off-spinner Roston Chase took two wickets in two balls either side of lunch.
But the twice dropped Sibley and Ben Stokes (59 not out) shared an unbroken stand of 126 after they lost the toss in overcast, bowler-friendly conditions.
“I think we’re in a good position, obviously we need to bat well tomorrow and capitalise on it,” England coach Chris Silverwood told Sky Sports.
“We’ve seen two very good partnerships there.
Dominic concentrates very well, he’s willing to bat for long periods of time and that”s what we needed at the top so the middle order can come in when the bowlers are a bit more tired.
“England suffered a setback before play started when they were forced to leave out Jofra Archer after the fast bowler admitted to breaking coronavirus protocols.
Archer left the bio-secure bubble where his teammates were staying to go home to Brighton on Monday following the end of the first Test, before the team travelled up to Manchester.
The Barbados-born quick”s absence deprived England of genuine speed on a pitch that traditionally assists fast bowlers after the hosts had already decided to rest Mark Wood, as well as James Anderson.
“He went home,” said Silverwood of Archer.
“Obviously that breaches the protocol of what we have set up here.
I spoke to (West Indies coach) Phil Simmons this morning and am grateful for the way they have reacted.
” Asked if he felt let down by Archer, former England bowler Silverwood added: “We feel he has made a mistake.
He is a young man and he”s made a bad judgement call.
“He knows he”s done that and we will support him as best we can.
” West Indies” quicks made a wayward start in a match where a win would see the Caribbean side secure a first Test series victory in England for 32 years.
But on the stroke of lunch, Chase struck with just his second ball to have Rory Burns lbw for 15. And the first ball back saw England”s 29-1 become 29-2 when Zak Crawley fell for a golden duck after tamely turning Chase straight to West Indies captain Jason Holder at leg-slip.
England captain Joe Root, who missed his side”s four-wicket loss in last week”s first Test at Southampton to attend the birth of his second child, survived the hat-trick.
He helped Sibley add 52, with much of that stand compiled while West Indies fast bowler Shannon Gabriel — man-of-the-match at Southampton — was off the field injured.
But young paceman Alzarri Joseph, using the width of the crease, lured Root, then on 23, into chasing a ball outside off stump, with second slip Holder catching a thick edge.
Sibley had a let-off shortly before tea when, on 44, a tough chance went down at short leg off Chase.
And he was reprieved again on 68 when the usually reliable Holder dropped a routine slip chance off Gabriel.
Sibley then survived an lbw appeal on 82 from Kemar Roach due to umpire’s call.
Meanwhile normally fluent all-rounder Stokes, back among the ranks after standing in as skipper at Southampton, needed 119 balls to reach fifty on a day where a sluggish outfield deprived England of several boundaries.
As in the first Test, players from both teams and the umpires took a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter campaign before play started at Old Trafford.