Si­b­ley is pa­tient, self­ish and stub­born – and this is just what Eng­land need

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Sport Third Test - Michael Vaughan

It has been a con­trast­ing sum­mer for Eng­land’s open­ers. Dom Si­b­ley is the an­swer to all the crit­i­cism Eng­land have re­ceived in re­cent years for be­ing too gung-ho. They have lost Test matches by bat­ting poorly in one ses­sion. We can­not crit­i­cise them for be­ing too ag­gres­sive and then com­plain when some­one like Si­b­ley comes along.

There will be many club crick­eters out there ask­ing how have we ended up with an Eng­land opener who can­not play the cover drive? The fact is Si­b­ley does not want to play it be­cause he sees it as a risk. He is wait­ing for the ball on mid­dle stump so he can work it to the on side.

Si­b­ley leaves out­side off stump well, he does not go chas­ing the ball. He will not sud­denly un­leash a Robin Smith-style square cut or Ricky Ponting-style pull shot, but what we have is some­one will­ing to bat for a long pe­riod of time and try to wear op­po­nents down. I like the Si­b­ley way in Test cricket. I like the fact he has worked out his game, left Sur­rey for War­wick­shire to find his way and been a con­sis­tently high run-scorer in county cricket.

Would I rush into the ground at 11am to watch him? No. But would I pay money to watch him bat? Yes. I like watch­ing play­ers who want to bat for a long pe­riod of time, be­cause they play for the team. They risk all that hard work coming to noth­ing be­cause they could still make a low score de­spite the time in­vested.

He is ob­vi­ously a bit self­ish, which you need as an opener, and stub­born about the way he plays. That is fine.

Alas­tair Cook came into the Eng­land team with two or three shots and peo­ple thought he had lim­i­ta­tions. But in Test cricket two or three scor­ing op­tions take you a long way. Where play­ers get into trou­ble is when they have too many shots. Si­b­ley’s hands go out away from his body, which looks unortho­dox but works for him. He seems to know where his off stump is. The align­ment of his feet is neu­tral, which cer­tainly helps.

Look at Rory Burns. His feet cross over and his right foot goes too far over to the off side. His head fol­lows his foot, so he has be­come vul­ner­a­ble to straight balls. Si­b­ley does not look vul­ner­a­ble to the straight ball. He is in a nice, bal­anced po­si­tion. If it seams around then, of course he could be in trou­ble, but he is not the only one in that po­si­tion.

Down the leg side is some­thing he is go­ing to have to work on. I think he is a bit ca­sual with the leg-side ball, he just flicks his bat at it. He just needs to com­mit more to the shot and get more bat on it. Against spin, he needs an­other scor­ing area. That will be his chal­lenge in the sub­con­ti­nent, be­cause he can­not get com­pletely bogged down by the spin­ner.

Get­ting caught down the leg side is an easy one to put to bed. You just have to men­tally re­alise that now and then you might just have to let it hit you.

This is quite a big week for Burns. He is the se­nior pro. I love his char­ac­ter. He is not un­der threat in my opin­ion, but he does not want to end the sea­son with a cou­ple of low scores. Eng­land go to the sub­con­ti­nent in the win­ter. What will the make-up of the side be? How are they go­ing to set up? Zak Craw­ley could eas­ily open be­cause he is a good player of spin.

This is a top three Eng­land should in­vest time in. It is just that Burns’s tech­nique is so unortho­dox and has so many mov­ing parts that he will have a lot of low scores. That could drain him. When he gets to 20 or 30 like he did against West Indies on a cou­ple of oc­ca­sions he has to make it count.

His sec­ond-in­nings 90 at Old Traf­ford against West Indies does not count – the game was won by then. You make your name as an opener when the pres­sure is on, and he has not made the scores he would ex­pect.

It is not easy, but against the mov­ing ball in Eng­land your tech­nique looks af­ter you. So far this sea­son his tech­nique has not looked af­ter him well enough.

I like watch­ing play­ers who want to bat for a long pe­riod, be­cause they play for the team

Stub­born: Dom Si­b­ley’s abil­ity to stick around is im­por­tant as an open­ing bats­man

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