Dom Sibley: Happy to be a Bear

Dom Sibley: Happy to be a Bear

Warwickshire opening batsman Dom Sibley started the 2019 season in fine style with an impressive hundred against his old county, Surrey for MCC in the curtain-raiser fixture at Abu Dhabi. Fresh from this success, Sibley spoke to Deep Extra Cover’s Terry Wright.

“Since I came here to Edgbaston, all the lads have been great and the coaching staff have been really good.

“Ash [Ashley Giles] was the person who signed me and he has moved on, but everyone has made me feel really welcome. Now, I’m looking forward to working with [Sport Director] Paul Farbrace.”

The move from Surrey in 2017 has given a new impetus to Dom Sibley’s career. It is all of six seasons ago that he became the youngest player to make a double century in the County Championship. Aged 18 years and 21 days, he scored 242 against Yorkshire at the Oval.

In subsequent seasons, there were highs and lows as might be expected of a young player seeking to establish himself in the game. So when he chose to leave Surrey, the jury was still out as to whether that early promise would be fulfilled. 

Doubts remained when he struggled with the bat against Second Division bowling early last season, but then everything came right for the right-handed opener. He and fellow import Will Rhodes averaged over 90 for their opening stands in the second half of the season, and Sibley ended with three hundreds in consecutive matches.

Sibley is very clear about the importance of his batting partnership with Will Rhodes.  

“Will and I complement each other at the crease,” Sibley said, “He’s left-handed and I’m right, and he scores in different areas to me. When we’re both playing well and rotating the strike, we can be quite difficult to bowl to.

“When it didn’t go so well early on last year, that was my fault because Will was doing OK. I wasn’t really sure where my game was at the start of the season.

“When you fail, you start to think that you need to be doing stuff differently so I made a few technical changes and it worked.”

There were other special experiences last year.

“In the field, I found myself standing in the slips alongside Jonathan Trott and Ian bell, with Tim Ambrose keeping wicket. When I was a youngster, I watched them playing for England, so it was a real “pinch me” moment!”

Warwickshire recognised Sibley’s leadership potential by appointing him last year as vice-captain to Jeetan Patel, ahead of more experienced players such as Bell and Trott.

“At times last year, when I was struggling for runs, it was difficult. 

“I felt that I didn’t have the right to give my opinion, especially when people were saying things like ‘this could be your last game before you get dropped.’  

“But Jeets has been great, always asking me what I think. So it’s a nice role to have.”

Last year, Sibley played mainly four-day cricket; but his ambitions are wider.

“I’d like to play in all formats,” he said, “Hopefully I can start off by making an impact in the 50 over games early this season. In 2017, I played in the T20 Blast and that went OK.”

Talk of white ball cricket takes us on to Sibley’s bowling. For a year or so, he has been experimenting with the tricky art of leg spin. 

“Yes, I played three T20 Blast games last year, mainly as a bowler and batting at 6 or 7. I’ve worked hard on my bowling over the winter and practised a lot in Abu Dhabi.”

With the departure of Josh Poysden to Yorkshire, could this open the door to Sibley the bowler?

“Yes. I want to be an option that Jeets can trust so, given the chance, I hope it will come out all right.

“I don’t think I’ll bowl much in the four day game – maybe just at Somerset if the pitch turns square!”

Looking ahead to the coming season, Sibley is pretty clear as to his priority.

“Everyone wants to win the County Championship. There’s no feeling like winning a four day game, when as a team you’ve been through the ups and downs of four days’ hard work. It’s really special.”

But then again: 

“This year is the last time that the 50 Overs Final will be at Lord’s, so it would be lovely to play there and win that.”

As for higher ambitions, Sibley is understandably cautious:

“Every player dreams of playing for England in a Test Match, but I just want to concentrate on scoring runs for Warwickshire and helping them win games.”

Time will tell just how far Dom Sibley can go as a cricketer. At the start of a new season, it is clear that his move from Surrey to Warwickshire has given his career the boost that it needed and that, right now, he is extremely happy to be a Bear.

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