England's director of cricket Ashley Giles tips Warwickshire opener Dominic Sibley for top order
England are set to name Warwickshire opener Dominic Sibley in their Test squad for New Zealand with director of cricket Ashley Giles praising his temperament after a stunning summer at county level.
Sibley, who has just turned 24, has scored 1,324 runs at an average of nearly 70 in a summer where no other Division One batsman has reached four figures. During Warwickshire’s recent win over Nottinghamshire, he carried his bat for 215, then made 109 in the second innings.
And with England trying to settle on a top order for the first Test at Mount Maunganui on November 21, Sibley could be in line for a debut alongside former Surrey team-mate Rory Burns, who enjoyed a successful Ashes. That would mean Joe Denly moving to No 3, with captain Joe Root then able to resume his favoured role at No 4.
England are set to name Warwickshire opener Dominic Sibley in Test squad for New Zealand
‘He’s not the prettiest on the eye all the time but neither is Rory Burns or Steve Smith,’ said Giles.
‘He has some good stuff between his ears. He’s a mature guy and works really hard. It’s difficult to look past what he has: nearly 1,400 is an amazing amount of runs and pleasingly he has faced over 3,000 balls, which is a thousand more than anyone else.’
The selectors meet on Monday to finalise touring parties both for the five-match T20 series starting in Christchurch on November 1, and the two Tests that follow. And while Jason Roy is unlikely to be in the Test party after a disappointing Ashes, Giles insisted he had not given up on a Test career.
‘Jason’s very keen to play Test cricket,’ he said. ‘While the white-ball stuff is great fun and very lucrative, these guys still see it as the biggest challenge.’
Sibley, who has just turned 24, has scored 1,324 runs at an average of nearly 70 this summer
Giles admitted that the decision by Moeen Ali to step back from Tests left England vulnerable in a spin department now reliant on Somerset left-armer Jack Leach.
But he named three slow bowlers who may come into contention as England look to build a side capable of competing in India in January 2021 and the Ashes that year: leg-spinners Matt Parkinson of Lancashire and Hampshire’s Mason Crane, plus Somerset off-spinner Dom Bess, who played two Tests against Pakistan last summer.
Ali’s situation, however, has underlined the importance of player welfare, with Giles describing many of the England team’s state of mind after an exhausting summer as ‘whacked’.
And part of his discussions with whoever replaces Trevor Bayliss as head coach will centre on easing Root’s burden as captain.
Trevor Bayliss' successor may decide to ease the burden on under pressure captain Joe Root
‘At times, because of the laid-back nature of Trev, Joe has almost had to lead over seven days – two days of preparation and five days of match. I think that’s a big ask of anyone.
‘One of the problems is keeping everyone healthy, mentally and physically, and that’s going to take some careful management.’
Giles also said England’s decision to refocus on Test cricket after a four-year build-up to this summer’s successful World Cup campaign would not damage their bid to retain the 50-over trophy in 2023, arguing that Twenty20 and one-day skills were increasingly interchangeable.