Dominic Sibley in line for England call-up for New Zealand tour as Test rebuild begins

The Telegraph

The Telegraph

Author 2019-09-21 20:30:00

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The rebuilding of England’s Test team will start this week with Warwickshire opener Dominic Sibley in line to be called up for the tour to New Zealand.

Sibley is county cricket’s leading run scorer with 1,324 in division one and has faced 3,024 balls this season showing the old fashioned attributes of crease occupation and steady accumulation.Â

He has scored five hundreds, with a top score of 244 and scored 215 last week against Nottinghamshire. He will be named in England’s squad for the two Tests in New Zealand, which take place after a white ball leg of the tour, when it is announced by chief selector, Ed Smith, at Lord’s on Monday afternoon.

Sibley’s selection would enable England to shake up the top order. He is likely to open with Rory Burns with Joe Denly moving to three which would allow Joe Root to revert back to his favoured position at four. Surrey’s Ollie Pope is also expected to be named in the squad and will provide competition for batting places in the final XI. England are considering handing the keeping gloves to Jos Buttler and Pope will put pressure on Jonny Bairstow for a place as a specialist batsman. Alternatively, if England stick with Bairstow as keeper, Pope will challenge Buttler for a place.

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Smith and his fellow selector James Taylor have the final call on selection and have watched Sibley several times this season. Kent’s Zak Crawley is also highly rated but looks set for a winter with the Lions instead. Although with three Test series over the next six months in New Zealand, South Africa and Sri Lanka, there are plenty of opportunities for England to start the next phase of their rebuilding after the drawn Ashes series.

Sibley has the support of Ashley Giles, the England team director who signed him for Warwickshire in the winter of 2017 from Surrey. Giles is not a selector but his support will carry significant weight, particularly as he is likely to deputise in place of the England coach in tomrrow’s selection meeting.

“I will try and be gentle here, he (Sibley) is not the prettiest on the eye all the time but neither is Rory Burns nor Steve Smith but he has some good stuff between his ears,” said Giles. “For someone who is actually only 24, relatively young, he is mature and works extremely hard. He is really ambitious and it is difficult to look past 1400 runs this year. It is an amazing amount of runs and pleasingly he has faced around 3000 balls which is 1000 balls more than anyone else which is a good starting point regardless of your technique. If you are facing that many balls you are doing something right and you have a good temperament. I’m delighted for him having taken him to Warwickshire but his section will come down to Ed and Jim.”

Sibley’s selection will show England have moved on from the Trevor Bayliss years and are opting for more patient batsmen at the top of the order after the experiment with Jason Roy failed in the Ashes. Giles confirmed Roy remains “really keen to play Test cricket”.

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