England opener Dom Sibley has admitted he had doubts regarding his ability at Test level during the Centurion Test against South Africa in December last year.
The Warwickshire batsman made his Test debut on the tour of New Zealand at the start of the winter, managing scores of 22, 12 and 4 across two matches. His struggles continued in the first Test with South Africa, with Kagiso Rabada dismissing him for four.
Nevertheless, Sibley – who topped the County Championship run-charts last summer with 1,324 runs – was told to stick to his existing methods by the veteran England duo of Stuart Broad and James Anderson, and an innings of 29 in the second innings provided a welcome boost of confidence.
“I thought: if they bowl like that all series, I’m not sure I’ll get a run,” Sibley told the Daily Mail of his first innings of the series. “I spoke to my opening partner Rory Burns, and he said the same thing. He reckoned it was the best opening spell he’d faced – even better than the Ashes, when he’d faced Pat Cummins.
“I spoke to Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad, and they said I should keep doing what I’d been doing. For them to say that, urging me not to worry, really helped. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have my doubts. But I got 29 in the second innings and took confidence from how I played.”
Sibley went on to his maiden Test hundred in the following match, finishing England’s 3-1 series win as their top-scorer with 384 runs.
“At times in that series, there was Anrich Nortje at one end and Kagiso Rabada at the other, each bowling 90mph-plus,” added Sibley. “You don’t get exposed to that too often in county cricket. It’s about being thick-skinned.
“I have to stick to my method and not get sucked into what people are saying about me.”