Dom Sibley taking it one game at a time as he hopes for England return

Dom Sibley is enjoying his cricket again but trying to stay focused on the present with Warwickshire rather than any potential England recall.

The opener was discarded from the international set-up last summer after a string of low scores and opted against touring Australia with England Lions in order to work on his technique back home.

A century in May against Lancashire at Emirates Old Trafford – the venue for England’s second Test with South Africa next week – vindicated the “difficult” decision Sibley made when he turned down the chance to be part of a shadow squad Down Under while the Ashes were going on.

Further success has followed with a dogged 102 at Northamptonshire in June forcing a final-day draw but more recently the 26-year-old has shown his skills in white-ball cricket with the LV= Insurance County Championship on pause.

An unbeaten 106 earlier this month started Warwickshire’s Royal London Cup campaign with victory away to Gloucestershire and he struck 89 on Friday in a losing cause against Middlesex in Radlett, not long after England went down in three days to South Africa at Lord’s but Sibley is staying typically level-headed.

He told the PA news agency: “I am trying to not look too far ahead and to stay in the present. I have games coming up and want to get runs for Warwickshire so that is all I am focused on at the minute.

“I am feeling good, playing nicely. I played nicely (against Middlesex). Radlett is a quick scoring ground and it is always nice to have a quick outfield.

“From a personal point of view facing an international bowler like (Umesh) Yadav, who bowled at a decent pace, it was good to feel good against a bowler like that but ultimately disappointed I couldn’t kick on and get the team over the line.

“I think overall when I have been batting in the red-ball stuff, it has been about enjoying it a bit more. I wanted to play with a bit more enjoyment compared to last summer (and) the way my technique was, but nothing too drastic has changed. I am just trying to enjoy it a bit more.”

Enjoyment has been a big buzz word used by new England Test captain Ben Stokes, who has quickly ushered in an ultra-aggressive style which worked in June and July with thrilling chases in victories against New Zealand and India.

South Africa halted the Stokes and Brendon McCullum winning streak at Lord’s with victory achieved by an innings and 12 runs only a week after an England Lions XI which contained Sibley thrashed the Proteas by an even bigger margin in Canterbury.

While Sibley was overshadowed in the four-day match by the eye-catching exploits of Ben Duckett, Harry Brook and Dan Lawrence, it was his 48 at the top that set them a platform and also occurred at a quicker than usual strike rate of 77.41 under the watchful eye of McCullum and managing director of men’s cricket Rob Key.

“It was good to play South Africa last week, really enjoyable,” the soon-to-be Surrey player admitted.

“They (McCullum and Key) spoke at the start and as a team we just wanted to play well.

“We wanted to play some good, positive cricket and we did that, so it was an enjoyable week.”

Sibley scored his maiden Test hundred away to South Africa in 2020 but he was only able to pass three-figures once more for his country and it saw him dropped last August with an average of 28.94 from 22 matches.

Despite Zak Crawley’s struggles this summer, England are expected to stick with the Kent batter for next week’s second Test in Manchester and have no obvious back-up opener in their current 14-man squad.

It means Sibley’s chances of a recall may have to wait until the winter tour of Pakistan but he is determined to finish the domestic season strongly and bid farewell to Warwickshire by keeping them in Division One.

“Yeah, I guess it was difficult but I needed to work on my game and work on my technique so I’m pleased I’ve scored a few runs since,” Sibley reflected on the decision to turn down the England Lions tour of Australia last winter.

“I feel like I have been playing well but I want to finish off the season strongly.

“Hopefully I can finish with a couple more big hundreds in the Championship to help us stay up. It would be really good to finish off well (at Warwickshire) and make sure as a team we don’t get relegated.”