Jimmy Anderson yesterday praised the maturity shown by Dominic Sibley, whose innings has given England the chance to take control of the second Test at Newlands.
England have not won at this fortress of South African cricket since 1957, and the home team have lost just two Tests here since readmission in 1991, but despite two wickets falling late in the day the tourists are in complete command with a lead of 264 and will look to set up a declaration this afternoon to give them time to level the series.
The inexperienced Sibley led the way with his maiden 50 in his fourth Test, batting patiently for almost six hours, with Joe Root (61) and Joe Denly (31) providing able support.
The Warwickshire batsman finished the day 85 not out following a third-wicket stand of 116 with Root after Anderson had made short work of South Africa’s tail in the morning session.
Sibley’s innings has handed England a real opportunity to give Chris Silverwood a much-needed first win as coach ahead of Test matches at Port Elizabeth and Johannesburg.
‘We’ve not only seen that he has the ability to score runs in Test cricket, but he’s got the mentality to open the batting and stay at the crease for a long time,’ Anderson said. ‘That’s what we’ve been missing for a couple of years. Hopefully he’s going to cement his place and will get confidence from this and go on tomorrow.
‘If the wicket is as flat as it looked today we’d want 350-plus minimum I think. Then again, if it starts to deteriorate and plays like it has done the last two days then we feel in the game right now. Whatever we get we’re going to have to bowl well.’
Anderson claimed another record with his two quick wickets giving him the 28th five-wicket haul of his career to move past Sir Ian Botham in that particular chart, but his primary concern was regaining form following an indifferent first Test at Centurion after five months out with a calf injury.
The 37-year-old’s continued excellence is extraordinary, as exemplified by the fact that he has taken 102 wickets in 26 matches at a staggering average of 20.67 since his 35th birthday.
‘It’s nice to see my name above him, (Botham) someone of his stature and what he did for the game,’ Anderson said. ‘It makes me quite proud, but it’s not why I play the game. Hopefully I can add to it in the next few years.
‘I sat down at the end of day two and that feeling is what I’d missed: that proper hard day of Test cricket, that proper graft. It was a real battle. That’s why I still want to play cricket, that’s what I get a buzz from, coming off the field after a day like that.
‘It was hot as well, so you’re sweaty and you know you’ve put a shift in. It makes all that hard work and the frustration of missing three or four months worthwhile.