England opening batsman Dom Sibley, who has been prolific with the bat for his country since his Test debut, currently second in the list of England’s highest run scorers this summer, feels that he can contribute a lot more for the team by converting his gritty starts into a big individual score and improving his game against spin.
The Surrey-born opener said, “I do feel, sitting here now, that I’ve got a lot more to give. I’ve only sort of shown myself to a certain level at this stage, and I do feel like I’ve let opportunities slip to score maybe four or five hundreds. That might be sounding greedy and it might sound unrealistic but that’s the way I think.”
The two major chinks in Sibley’s game so far have been his inability to score runs at a quicker rate, as suggested by his strike rate of 36.57, and his over-circumspection against spin bowling. About the same, Sibley said, “I am trying to learn and improve as much as possible,” he said. “That’s the thing that I probably need to do a bit better, especially against spin, is to try and rotate the strike as much as possible; be a bit more proactive. I’ve been working really hard on that.”
Sibley has sought guidance on the same from former England batsman Graham Thorpe, who used to be an excellent player of spin, and currently serves as England’s assistant coach. Sibley has asked some of his team-mates for advice as well.
Sibley did try to go after the leg-spin of Yasir Shah in the second innings of the first Test. After having padded him away for two consecutive overs, he came undone as he looked to drive Yasir when he came back over the wicket, edging to slip and trudging off to the pavilion.
“I was obviously extremely disappointed with the way I got out in that second innings because I had worked really hard, (and had) been really disciplined against him,” he said. “I did feel like I wanted to be that person, not out at the end when we chased that down. But it wasn’t to be and you try and learn from those mistakes.”
“It’s a fine balance, I suppose because I want to be out there and put such a high price on my wicket and do a good job for the team. But at the same time, trying to find that balance between (that and) having the bravery to play the shots that I feel like I know I have in the locker.”
“It’s just a case of having the bravery and confidence to do that in the Test arena when the scrutiny is higher and you might get judged in how you get out.”
Batting with Joe Root, an expert against the spinners himself, Sibley realised that there is work to be done. “I feel confident in playing spin and I have done. When you get to this level, and suddenly loads of eyes are on you, and you may not be scoring as quickly as other people in the team, you get judged.
“I have always felt very confident and scored runs against good bowlers in country cricket. But when you get to international cricket, with the spotlight being on you, you get those things pointed out a bit more. It’s made me think that I need to work a bit harder. When you are batting with someone like Rooty at the other end who is making playing spin look pretty easy, it makes me think that I need to try and take my game against spin to the next level.”