CAPE TOWN: Dom Sibley lay awake watching TV at 2 on Monday morning as he fretted over 15 runs needed to complete his maiden test century, but he got there in the end to guide England to a strong position in the second test against South Africa at Newlands.
Opener Sibley’s highest score in his three previous tests was 29, but he showed excellent application to reach 85 not out overnight in Cape Town, before completing the ton and reaching an unbeaten score of 133 in England’s second innings.
"I slept terribly to be honest, I was up at 2 a.m. watching television and thinking of those 15 runs. It feels amazing now though," Sibley told reporters.
His century helped England set South Africa what would be a test record score of 438 for victory, with the home side closing day four on 126 for two.
His vigil at the crease lasted eight-and-a-half hours of steady concentration, and Sibley brought up his hundred with a sweep out of the rough that went to the boundary.
"When I saw the ball go for four ... it was something I was working towards since I was 13 or 14 years old. You dream of the moment and hopefully there are a few more over the next few years.
"You can never prepare for the spotlight you are under (playing test cricket), what people write about you and the critiquing of your technique.
"In my first two tests (in New Zealand) I put myself under pressure to get the big score. This trip (to South Africa) I took pressure off myself and just concentrated on spending time at the crease, not worrying about what others were saying. Just playing my own game like I have been for Warwickshire."
Sibley says he felt at home at Newlands, a ground he knows well from past visits.
"I love Cape Town. I’ve been here on some academy tours with Surrey and played an Under-19 test match series against South Africa. This ground is amazing and to score a test match hundred here with the atmosphere ...(Ben) Stokesy said to be just enjoy it and take it in."
Sibley will now hope England can push for victory to cap his excellent match, with the tourists needing eight more South African wickets on a pitch that has flattened out in the last two days.
"We are going to have to work hard tomorrow. Hopefully that crack outside the off-stump (at the Kelvin Grove end) opens up again.
"Today and yesterday is the best the pitch has played, but hopefully it goes back to how it was on the first two days."
(Reporting By Nick Said; editing by Nick Macfie)