DOM SIBLEY knows as well as anyone to take warm-up performances with a pinch of salt but the opener is hoping his half-century on day one of England’s tour of South Africa is a sign of things to come.
Sibley made a hundred in his first innings as an England player, the corresponding curtain-raiser in New Zealand last month, but then found life considerably tougher in his maiden Test series, managing just 38 in three knocks — he is however inked in to continue at the top of the order against the Proteas.
He batted for three hours and 20 minutes in Benoni yesterday, soaking up 140 deliveries from a modest Invitational XI attack, before retiring on 58. Both Joe Denly (60) and captain Joe Root (72) went further than Sibley, and more fluently, before joining him by retiring as England reached 309 for seven.
If Sibley can bring the same stoicism and security to the Test arena, he could become a valuable asset.
‘I want to peak at the right times,’ he said. ‘I know that especially, but it was just a case of working on a couple of things. It was nice to get a bit of time at the crease and get those things embedded in my game.
‘I’ve got to start getting some scores but hopefully Boxing Day will be my day, if I play.’
England had little over a week between returning from New Zealand and jetting out for Johannesburg, but Sibley found time to fit in workouts with Warwickshire batting coach Tony Frost and also Gary Palmer, a favourite of England’s record runscorer Sir Alastair Cook, who is credited with helping Sibley rebuild his game at domestic level.
‘I had a session with Gary, it’s always useful. I enjoy working with him,’ he said. ‘I’m just going to play my game, stick to my strengths and stay nice and chilled out.’
England will spend all of today in the field, hoping Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad are both fit enough after colds to take a full part.
■ ENGLAND Women made a winning start to their T20 International series against Pakistan with a 29-run victory in Kuala Lumpur.
Opener Amy Jones struck ten fours in her fine 39-ball 53 to lay the foundations for England’s 154 for four. Pakistan were always up against it in reply, as they slumped from 47 for two
to 61 for six, eventually being all out for 125. Sophie Ecclestone took three for 21 as England went 1-0 up in a three-match series.