Are Rory Burns and Dom Sibley The Future?
Jason Roy. Alex Hales. Sam Robson. Adam Lyth. Mark Stoneman. The list continues. English opening batsmen in the last few years have come and gone. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have made a great start to their test match careers as England’s current openers.
But what separates them from the rest of the opening batsmen? And what benefits have they bought to England’s test match team?
Joe Root Does Not Have To Face The New Ball
Far too often, in recent times, England have had top-order collapses. In fact, England have struggled so much that 30-2 or 30-3 has become acceptable in English Cricket.
Recently, though, this has shown signs of changing. Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have been excellent at the top of the order and safeguarded Joe Root. They have become a stable opening partnership since the end of 2019.
Joe Root coming in continuously against the new-ball has affected his test match batting average. He was averaging 55 at one point in his test career, but this has come down to just below 48. His conversion rate has also suffered, because facing the ball, even if he gets a good start, a “jaffa” is always around the corner. Especially with the Dukes ball. Especially in England.
England will therefore want Rory Burns and Dom Sibley to continue their form and stability at the top of the order.
The Ability To Make Big Scores
Both Rory Burns and Dom Sibley have illustrated in the past, that they are capable of making huge scores. They aren’t just satisfied with centuries. In fact, they want to go on and make 150s and 200s.
Rory Burns scored a superb 133 against Australia at Edgbaston. He was facing an excellent pace attack and tried his best to elevate both his score and the teams score, but his trouble against off-spin had him in strife. He definitely needs to improve on this aspect. Especially in the subcontinent where on flat pitches, big scores are very obtainable. He just needs to improve his technique versus the off-spinner. The temperament, however, is there.
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In all honesty, Dom Sibley suffers from a similar problem. He has the ability to grind down and score big runs but not at pace because he gets tied down versus spin.
Nevertheless, he would probably have scored more than the 120 at Old Trafford against the West Indies in the second test, had Joe Root not encouraged him to go after the bowling. This was playing against his natural game and cost Dominic Sibley his wicket in the end via a poor shot.
Rory Burns and Dom Sibley Can Fix The Overseas Problem
England have been struggling overseas for a number of years now. Recently, they lost 2-1 in the West Indies. However, their record seems to be improving. In November 2018, England whitewashed Sri Lanka 3-0 in Sri Lanka. In December 2019/January 2020, England fought back to beat South Africa 3-1 in South Africa.
Rory Burns and Dom Sibley both played parts of these tours. Burns struggled on his first tour to Sri Lanka and only managed to score one half-century in the three match series. However, he will be better for the experience for future subcontinent tours. Plus, he did score a superb 84 in the second innings at SuperSport Park Centurion, before picking up an injury.
Dom Sibley had an excellent tour to South Africa. He scored 324 runs at 54, including a superb century at Cape Town. His innings, along with Ben Stokes’ firepower turned the series around.
Come this winters tour to India and 2021/22 Ashes, both Rory Burns and Dom Sibley could be vital in helping England at least compete. They were blown away on their last 2 tours to India and Australia – losing 4-0 in both. However, if England can manage to win a test match in either country and not lose by a large margin, they will feel that they are progressing.
Rory Burns and Dom Sibley both have massive parts to play.
Allow England’s Middle-Order To Be Aggressive
England’s problem a few winters ago was that the entire team, barring Alastair Cook were all “strokemakers” as stated by Michael Vaughan after a dreadful 4-0 in the 2017/18 Ashes down under.
Finally, England have the right balance in their team. They have still retained their aggressive batsmen, but now they only occupy a few spaces. Plus, all of the aggressive batsmen are good test match players, rather than ODI players who had been transferred into the test team.
Rory Burns and Dom Sibley are the key to this change. They set the platform for the likes of Joe Root, Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler to attack. If Rory Burns and Dom Sibley, along with either of Zak Crawley or Joe Denly blunt the new ball and set a solid foundation, England’s middle order can be slightly more expansive. The likes of Ben Stokes and Jos Buttler may be given slightly more of a free role.
Not only does this allow the middle-order to play their natural game, but it also strikes fear into the opposition. This is because opposing teams realise that Jos Buttler will likely put pressure on their bowling attack, rather than letting them dictate.
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Both Put A Prize On Their Wicket
Geoffrey Boycott once stated “you’ve got to sell your wicket dearly.” English middle-order batsmen and even openers in the past have been guilty of doing anything but that.
Jason Roy is a difficult case to analyse. He does not open for his county and yet England asked him to open in the 2019 Ashes, on the basis of his 2019 Cricket World Cup form. But even leaving him aside, players such as Alex Hales have attempted to adapt to test cricket but have failed.
Rory Burns and Dom Sibley both put a hefty prize on their wickets and will do everything they can to stop the opposition dismissing them, while scoring at the same time. They do this by playing within their limitations but take the opportunity to score when it presents itself.
Can Rory Burns and Dom Sibley become the next Alastair Cook and Andrew Strauss combination for England’s test match team?
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