Dom Sibley wants to open the batting for England 'for as many years as possible' after call-up
The Warwickshire opening batsman has been nominated for PCA Players' Player of the Year and Young Player of the Year awards
Last Updated: 02/10/19 6:12pm
Five fifties, five hundreds, 1,324 runs and an average of 69.68.
With numbers like those behind you as a batsman, you must be confident of an international call-up. If you have been playing on seamer-friendly pitches, in your country's top division as an opening batsman then you are surely nailed on for selection.
If, on top of all of that, you are English as well then, given their well-publicised troubles at the top of the order in recent years, you might as well start packing your bags and sending your kit measurements over to the relevant people at the ECB.
Instead, on the afternoon that the England squad for the tour of New Zealand was announced, Dom Sibley found himself glancing nervously up at Warwickshire head coach Jim Troughton, waiting for a thumbs-up that never came.
It is hard to think what more he could have done, no other batsman in the division had even passed 1,000 runs, but until he got that call, nothing was guaranteed.
"I was fielding when the call came through and I was getting really anxious," Sibley told Sky Sports.
"I just said to our head coach Jim Troughton, 'I'm really nervous here, at two o'clock you've got to give me a thumbs-up or thumbs-down', but he kept on gesturing to me that he didn't know and I was just thinking 'what's going on?'"
A delay in the squad announcement was doing little to help Sibley's nerves but he need not have worried.
"I told the umpires I needed the toilet and snuck off and quickly checked my phone - which we're not allowed to do at Warwickshire but I had to keep my phone on me that day!
"[National selector] Ed Smith had called me and I had a text, then as I walked back onto the field they announced it on the tannoy as well which was nice. It was a hectic day!"
The 24-year-old opener will join up with England ahead of the two-Test series in New Zealand and, given the make-up of the squad, many consider him a shoo-in to play in the opening match in Mount Maunganui.
Sibley himself is making no such assumptions but if he does get the nod, there will be no self-congratulation. Getting in the team is just the start.
"First of all, I want to go out there and train hard, be as well prepared as I can be in case I do get that call and get the cap. Then, once I get the chance to play, it's an opportunity to never give it away.
"That's my aim, if I do get the cap then I want to be opening the batting for England for as many years as possible. That's solely my aim if I'm lucky enough to get the cap."
The way Sibley has batted in red-ball cricket is proof of how highly he values his wicket. Where previously there has been a clamour for England to find an opener akin to David Warner or Virender Sehwag, who can get the team off to a flyer and put pressure on the opposition, Sibley represents a return to a more traditional approach.
His strike-rate of 43.78 is not one to get pulses racing, but in a team with more than enough players capable of scoring quickly, an opener who faced 3,024 deliveries - more than 1,000 more than anyone else - in the County Championship this summer has the potential to be the perfect foil.
He is the latest in a long list of openers that England have turned to since the retirement of Andrew Strauss, but after being bowled out for less than 100 four times in the past 19 months, and with the Ashes showing that for all his talent and the attacking shots at his disposal, Jason Roy is not a Test-match opener, perhaps it makes sense to go for a man who has shown the ability to bat time, build an innings and, ultimately, score a lot of runs.
"Everyone that has played as an opener has deserved their chance through doing really well at county level," Sibley added. "I don't think it's a case of me doing anything different, it's just that this season something has clicked for me, I've got a better understanding of my game and hopefully I can take that into the Test arena."
The challenges of stepping up from county cricket to Test cricket are not just limited to events on the field. The added attention from the media and eagle-eyed pundits pouring over his technique is something else Sibley will have to contend with.
He has had a small taste of that sort of attention in the past after he made headlines to become the youngest double-centurion in County Championship history, scoring 242 for Surrey against Yorkshire, in his third first-class game and aged just 18 years and 21 days.
But even that, he says, does not compare to what he will encounter playing for England.
"This is a different level. I don't know if you can ever really prepare yourself for all that media scrutiny and stuff like that.
"I'm just excited to get out there and test myself, it'll be a challenge of myself and my skills against our guys in the nets and then, hopefully, if I get the call-up, against the New Zealanders. I'm looking forward to it."
Sibley could have the bragging rights over a couple of his new team-mates before he even walks into the dressing room after being nominated for both the PCA Players' Player of the Year, where Ben Stokes is also on the shortlist, and Young Player of the Year awards, with Zak Crawley nominated for the latter as well.
"It's a really nice feeling to be recognised by fellow professional cricketers. I saw a few tweets before the England selection was announced saying that they thought I should be picked which was really nice to see.
"Then to be nominated for both the young player and player's player awards is something I'm really pleased with. It's really nice to be voted for by players that you go up against week in, week out during the season."
A place in the England squad may be reward enough - and the wait to discover his fate may not be quite so anxious this time - but a trophy (or two) would be a fitting end to a stellar summer for Sibley.