Sibley sheds the weight after feeling ‘embarrassed’ over his fitness
Dom Sibley has lost just under 2st after feeling embarrassed about his fitness when he compared himself to senior England players.
Sibley has prepared for his first Test series at home by losing weight during lockdown with equipment provided by the England strength and conditioning coaches.
“I’ve always been someone who hasn’t necessarily been the fittest in the squad and I’ve always been coasting in that aspect,” he said.
“I have always prided myself in training really hard on my batting but maybe that side has not been something I have done to the best of my ability. Being in Sri Lanka for the first time in my career, I felt a little self-conscious about my physique and my weight, just seeing how fit some of the senior guys are.
“I just remember sitting on the plane thinking I needed to do something, especially during lockdown when we couldn’t improve anything cricket-related. It was an opportunity for me to improve that side of my game and I’m glad to have been able to stick to it.”
Sibley is a big target at the crease and perhaps losing weight will make him lighter on his feet, especially against quick bowlers targeting his chest and armpit area, although he says so far he has not noticed any effect on his batting.
He was caught down the leg side off a Jofra Archer bouncer in England’s intra-squad warm-up match, so even his own side have picked at a potential weakness targeted by South Africa this year, when they stationed a leg gully to cut off one of his favourite scoring areas.
“It’s somewhere I’ve scored a lot of runs in county cricket with that shot,” he said. “It was interesting in the practice match that they went with that as well, so it was a good
experience. It’s a case of being in control of that area around the nipple to hip. Choosing when to play and when not to play.”
Sibley will open with Rory Burns, with Zak Crawley dropping to four while Joe Denly stays at three. It suggests Denly is senior to Crawley and is likely to keep his place when Joe Root returns next week, unless Crawley heavily outscores him.
Both teams are likely to “take the knee” before the start of the Test tomorrow, in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Captains Ben Stokes and Jason Holder were due to discuss the issue last night. There will be a minute’s silence for Sir Everton Weekes, who died last week, and victims of coronavirus.
The England and Wales Cricket Board has confirmed that crowd noise will not be piped into the Ageas Bowl, although viewers will hear a crowd hum recorded from past Tests. There will be an MC announcer, after players requested it.
England will play three one-day internationals against Ireland from July 30 to Aug 4, meaning two England teams will play different formats just 24 hours apart. The ODI series finishes at the Ageas Bowl the night before the first of three Tests against Pakistan starts at Emirates Old Trafford on Aug 5.