Dom Sibley is ready to show England that he is “the best opener in the country” when he takes on New Zealand this week, according to his Warwickshire team-mate Michael Burgess.
The Bears duo will line up against the Black Caps in Chelmsford on Thursday as part of a County Select XI that will put the tourists through their paces ahead of the first the first Test of he summer at Lord’s.
For wicketkeeper Burgess the call-up is just reward for a prolific start to the season, which has seen him score 486 runs at 69.42, but for Sibley it represents a timely chance to reassert his international credentials.
He was dropped last summer after a lean run just one half-century in 15 innings but, with Haseeb Hameed and Rory Burns also axed and incumbents Zak Crawley and Alex Lees with plenty to prove, the 26-year-old still has harbours hopes of adding to his 22 caps.
And Burgess, who has played with him since they both youngsters growing up in Epsom, expects Sibley to prove himself after a winter that saw him turn down an England Lions call-up to work on his game.
“I’ve always classed Sibbo as the best opener in the country. I think he can be the one to cement that place down,” he told the PA news agency.
“If he can come out this week and get some runs against New Zealand, he can show why he should be back opening the batting for England. I would love Dom to get in and I’ve no doubt he would do well.
“I know he’s itching to get back with England and he’s not shirked away from anything. If anything it has motivated him. He’s worked even harder than ever to get back in and technically he looks brilliant.
“I think he’s a better player now that when he played first time around. He’s always had the mental toughness to endure – I remember him scoring double hundreds in Under-15s cricket – but his work-rate over the winter was just incredible. He looks a completely different player.”
Burgess is keen to keep his own hot streak going in red-ball cricket too, having hit scores of 170 and 178 so far this term.
There is no shortage of wicketkeeper-batters in the England reckoning – with Ben Foakes, Jonny Bairstow, Jos Buttler, Sam Billings, James Bracey and Phil Salt making up a crowded field – but with Ben Stokes and Brendon McCullum newly installed as captain and coach, there has never been a better time to make an impression.
“I’m delighted to be given the chance to play against one of the best teams in the world, it’s a great opportunity,” he said.
“When a new regime comes in everyone who hasn’t played for England is back on that level playing field, because fresh eyes see things differently.
“Everyone who plays county cricket has the aspiration to play for England, we all want to get there and see where we stand. This will be a great chance to test myself over four days: do well and your name is up in lights and if you don’t, you learn more about what you need to do better.”