County Championship 2021 – Dom Sibley builds confidence in injured finger as Lord’s Test looms


Hard-fought 43 on return to Warwickshire team, but fielding may be key test

Dom Sibley admitted his frustration at getting out for 43 on his return to action after a broken finger, but believes his attritional two-and-a-half hour stay has gone a long way towards proving his readiness for the first Test against New Zealand at Lord’s in just under a fortnight’s time.

Despite a struggle for runs at the top and tail of the winter campaign in Sri Lanka and India, Sibley is arguably England’s first-choice Test opener at present, thanks to a pair of match-defining half-centuries at Galle and Chennai that demonstrated his mental fortitude in hostile conditions.

And those same attributes were once again to the fore on a seam-friendly first day of the LV= County Championship at Chelmsford, where his 120-ball knock outlasted the combined efforts of the rest of Warwickshire’s top five, as Peter Siddle led the line for Essex with 4 for 36.

“Some of the balls today nipped as far as some of the balls that spun in the winter,” Sibley said. “Obviously I’m disappointed to get out after doing the hard work to get myself in, but on a wicket like that, there was always going to be one with your name on it. So I’m just pleased to spend some time at the crease and keep building towards what’s going to be a big summer.”

Though Sibley conceded that his finger was not yet at 100%, after sustaining the injury while dropping a slip catch against Nottinghamshire in April, he was hopeful that a day in the field on Friday would give him the final confidence in his recovery that he will need before resuming his place in the England set-up.

“The finger felt good,” he said. “It’s one of those ones where it can feel alright in the nets – obviously the odd one gets hit a little bit – but on the whole it was really good. It was more my inner thigh and my box that was getting peppered today.

“If I’d tried to play a few more shots on that [pitch], I would have been out a bit quicker,” he added. “I realised pretty quickly that it was going to do a little bit, so you just try to defend well, leave well and run really hard between the wickets when you get the opportunity.”

Asked how long he thought it would be until he had full confidence in his finger again, Sibley conceded that the big test of his fitness would come in the field, most likely on Friday, given that Warwickshire reached the close of a rain-interrupted day on 159 for 7.