Dom Sibley, during his knocks of 18 (70) and 28 (133) in the first Test at Trent Bridge against India, displayed in abundance his ability to soak up deliveries. He also, however, demonstrated an inner conflict, an insecurity about the very nature of his game. He has clearly been listening to the outside noise, declaring him too stodgy, lacking a second, third and fourth gear.
That is why, despite KL Rahul also bogging down on day one at Lord’s, he was granted such praise where Sibley was not. Rahul’s technique demonstrates the grounding required to kick on when necessary, and his relative tranquility does not suggest imminent disaster, as Sibley has been doing in recent times. It is why Sibley is currently walking England’s Test selection tight rope.
As he begins his innings on day two at Lord’s, Sibley must, in teen-film fashion, be true to himself. He has been given another chance to do so, and should adhere to his best attribute of going on the defensive, exhausting onrushing bowlers. When he does so effectively, as he did for a short while at Trent Bridge, more fluent players at the other end, on said occasion Joe Root, are released of the usual shackles.
It would be wonderful if Sibley had the ability to shift the pace of his batting with the same adroitness as Rahul, but he just doesn’t. The worst thing he can do is try and force himself to do so, as he attempted with a wild drive in the second innings in Nottingham. Despite the noise, the calls for his head, Sibley just has to keep his, and bowlers will get frustrated. Playing within himself must be the order of what will otherwise be his last few days in England whites.