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AFP
September 23, 2019

England hopeful Sibley will be ‘difficult to look past’: Giles

Sports

AFP
September 23, 2019

LONDON: Warwickshire batsman Dominic Sibley’s scintillating form at the County Championship this year could likely lead to an opening slot for England’s next Test assignment — a two-match away series against New Zealand.

The 24-year-old scored two centuries in his most recent match, against Nottinghamshire this week. After carrying his bat for an unbeaten 215 in the first innings, he followed it up with 109 in the second to lead a comfortable chase of 271, with eight wickets in hand, while also becoming the leading run-scorer of the season.

Sibley’s tournament tally now stands at 1,324 runs, at an average of 69.68. Since Alastair Cook’s Test retirement in September 2018, England have been in search of a reliable and consistent run-scorer at the top of the order. They gave chances to Jason Roy, Joe Denly and Rory Burns in the recently concluded Ashes series, and prior to that, had also tried out Keaton Jennings against Sri Lanka and West Indies. But only Burns seems to have cemented his spot.

“Dominic is not the prettiest on the eye all the time, but then neither is Rory Burns or Steve Smith,” said Giles, England’s managing director of men’s cricket. “He is a mature guy, who works extremely hard and is really ambitious, so it’s difficult to look past what he’s got this season.

“He’s got almost 1,400 runs this year, an amazing amount of runs, and pleasingly, he has faced around 3,000 balls, which is over a thousand more than anyone else, so that’s a good starting point.”

Giles felt that given the amount of time Sibley has spent in the middle at the Championship this year, the young opening batsman would be ready to face the rigours of Test cricket. “Whatever your technique, if you are batting that many balls you are doing something right, so I’m delighted for him. But his selection will come down to [selectors] Ed Smith and James Taylor,” he said. “You have to go for the players who can deal with the stresses of Test cricket because that is as important as anything.”

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