Ben Stokes and Dom Sibley commemorated hard-won centuries as their stand of 260 permitted England to stack scoreboard pressure on the West Indies in the second Test at Emirates Old Trafford.
Not for the first time, Stokes was the headline act as he cracked 176 on day 2 his 10th Test hundred and his second-highest while Sibley completed a nine-hour impressive to finish with 120.
Their combined effort did the bulk of the work in a final total of 469 for 9 declared, England’s highest score in the opening innings of a home Test in 3 years.
The West Indies were 32 for one at the close, Sam Curran taking John Campbell out lbw late on.
What a moment! First Test 💯 on home soil for @DomSibley! 🙌
— England Cricket (@englandcricket) July 17, 2020
Sibley and Stokes had come together on the first afternoon when Joe Root’s departure left his side wobbling on 81 for 3 and was not parted for another 95 overs having changed the landscape of the match.
Stokes underlined his growing claim to be the country’s most complete batsman with brilliantly paced innings including 17 fours, 2 sixes, while Sibley is surely the most patient.
His unashamedly attritional knock saw him reach his second ton in a massive 312 balls, 9 more than the famously obdurate Sir Geoffrey Boycott ever took and just 3 less than Michael Atherton’s slowest England hundred on home soil in the 21 st century.
The 4th-wicket pair resumed on there an overnight score of 207 and immediately took advantage of their previous blueprint, putting on a modest 57 runs against some wildly varied bowling in the morning session.
Sibley was responsible for just 15 of those in 2 hours, however, that was enough to convert his day-one score into a first-century at home. The landmark moment came after 36 balls in the 90 s and just before lunch, a punch past mid-on skipping away for 3.
Stokes was less aggressive than usual but still considerably brisker than his partner, scoring 40 to reach the break on exactly 99. The 40- minute wait did nothing to trouble the all-rounder, who needed simply 3 balls after the restart to join Sibley.
He brought up his celebrations with a well-timed reverse-sweep to the third-man boundary.
Having taken 119 balls over his first fifty runs and 136 over his next fifty, Stokes flipped a switch and moved from 100 to 150 in just 46 deliveries. After denying himself for extended periods, the wider collection enjoyed an overdue outing.
Joseph left the field with tricep pain afterward, the second of the seam attack to require treatment after Shannon Gabriel in what was fast becoming a long and draining stint.
Jason Holder leaned on DRS in an attempt to make something happen, unsuccessfully referring lbws against Sibley on 105 and 109 then Stokes on 119.
In the end, it took a conscious decision from Sibley to break the long wicket drought, an uncharacteristic heave off Roston Chase soaring high and straight to Kemar Roach in the deep.
After 556 minutes his stay was over and his work was done. It was Stokes who was best placed to cash in and the Windies let him slip through their fingers twice.
Jermaine Blackwood allowed a thick edge to burst through his hands at slip with Stokes on 141, with the unfortunate Gabriel paying the price seconds later when a sumptuous on-drive raced for 4.
On 157 Gabriel created another chance, Stokes rocking back and steering to gully, where Shai Hope fumbled after diving well.
Ollie Pope missed out, lbw deep in his crease to Chase, before Stokes fell at the 3rd time of asking. Hunting down his second double century in Tests he felt confident enough to reverse his bat against Kemar Roach but brushed a catch behind.
Chris Woakes nicked to 3rd slip for a golden duck as Roach ended a long barren run dating back 3 Tests with 2 in 2 balls, however, the lower order still put on another 74.
Jos Buttler made 40 of them, showing glimpses of his stroke-making ability before holing out, while Dom Bess chipped in with 31 not out.
Chase completed figures of 5 for 172 having churned out 44 overs.
Root’s declaration left an hour to play with and it was Curran who landed a blow, coming on first change and getting Campbell leg before for 12.