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South Africa v England

Dom Sibley narrowly avoids injury after Joe Root variation goes wrong

by Wisden Staff 2 minute read

A seam-up bouncer from England captain Joe Root, delivered off a spinner’s run-up, almost ended in injury for Dom Sibley after a pull from Vernon Philander narrowly missed the close-in fielder.

Root had already taken four wickets with his off-breaks in South Africa’s second innings at Port Elizabeth, but with the first ball of the final over before stumps opted to try something different. The variation, however, perhaps came out shorter in length than Root intended, and Philander was able to size it up and pull it firmly. Sibley, fielding at leg slip, had little time to react as the ball flew past him.

“That was dangerous,” said SuperSport commentator Michael Holding. “Not for the batsman, but there are two fielders fielding very close to the bat there on the on-side. One [Ollie Pope] has a helmet on, he’s in front of square. The one behind square [Sibley] has nothing but a cap on his head.”

“The captain thinks he’s Harold Larwood all of a sudden,” said Holding’s co-commentator Mark Nicholas, but it was Sibley’s body on the line at Port Elizabeth. He donned a helmet for the next delivery, but it was almost one ball too late for the young England opener.

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