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Opinion: Dom Sibley is exactly the kind of player England need at the top of the order

Dom Sibley scored 120 on day two of the second Test match against West Indies
Dom Sibley scored 120 on day two of the second Test match against West Indies
Aaron Gales
Modified 17 Jul 2020

Ever since Andrew Strauss retired from international cricket in August 2012, England's Test cricket team has had an issue at the top of the order. Until 2018 they tried and failed to find a partner for Alastair Cook. When Cook retired it left a gaping hole in the longer form of the game, with both positions then up for grabs.

Following last summer's Ashes England appeared to have solved one half of the problem with the solid form of Rory Burns. Unfortunately the Jason Roy experiment failed miserably.

Despite only being eight matches in to his Test career England might now finally have the answer to a question they have been asking for the last eight years.

On day two of the second Test match against the West Indies, opener Dom Sibley put his hand up and cemented his place in the side for the foreseeable future.

After that patient, but impressive knock, the second Test match century of his career, Dom Sibley now has a Test match average of 44.33 with a strike rate of 36.22. He's not particularly fun to watch and he scores slowly, with his 120 runs taking 372 balls.

If you're after box office entertainment and big hitting then Dom Sibley is clearly not your man. But that is not what England need. They don't need flashy players who can score quick 30s and 40s. They need someone who can make big scores and occupy the crease for long periods of time.

As his career progresses and he gains more experience at the top level and plays in different conditions, he will learn to score more quickly. He is only 24 and in the infancy of his Test match career. Dom Sibley must be given time to develop and not pressurised to change his game when it is proving so successful.

Dom Sibley's strongest attribute is his mental approach. He plays each ball on its merit, a vital skill for an opener and one that Alastair Cook mastered.


His other attribute is that even if he doesn't always get big runs he always make a contribution. Dom Sibley gets in, and while sometimes he then gets out, he clearly has the capacity to go on and make big scores.

After a tough start to his career in New Zealand Dom Sibley has thrived in his last six Test matches with scores of 4, 29, 34, 133*, 36, 44, 44, 0, 50, 120. He also scored two big hundreds in Australia for England Lions in Australia. That ability to get runs, gives England a calmness at the start of the innings and gives more protection from the new ball for the players coming in at three and four.

England need some patience in their side if they are going to continue to develop under Joe Root's leadership. If they are going to have any chance of winning The Ashes in Australia next winter they will need batsmen who can dig in and play for long periods of time.

The team has plenty of attacking flair and players who can score quickly. But to give players like Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler license to attack you need to set a solid foundation, which this England side have too often failed to do in recent years.

The early part of Dom Sibley's career suggests that he has everything required to open the order for England and build a platform for his more attacking teammates for years to come.

Published 17 Jul 2020, 21:36 IST
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