Surrey v Yorkshire, The Oval, 3rd day September 26, 2013

Record-breaking Sibley shows Surrey the light


Surrey 572 for 4 (Sibley 220*, Amla 151, Burns 82, Solanki 51) lead Yorkshire 434 by 138 runs

Dominic Sibley provided a pleasant footnote to Surrey's torturous season by becoming the youngest player to score a double century in the County Championship. It was an extraordinary achievement for an 18-year-old who has to go back to school on Monday.

He batted for nine-and-a-half hours and faced 484 balls for his double hundred - concentration not often associated with the current generation of young players weaned on one-day cricket. Of Englishmen, only WG Grace has achieved the feat at a younger age in first-class cricket.

Supporters at The Oval have been demoralised this season by an unsuccessful side, the makeup of which has not reflected well on such a famous and wealthy county, but here they could rejoice in a fine young player who has been developed by the club's academy.

Sibley is the latest in a string of home-grown players to appear for Surrey. Their challenge is to ensure they are selected regularly and can develop into established first XI players at the club. Addressing the leakage of talent from The Oval should be high on the agenda of the new head coach.

Whoever is appointed will have a very talented young batsman to work with in Sibley, who will surely sign professional terms soon, having only been on a summer contract this season. When he was 15, he made a double-century for his club, Ashtead, and appeared for Surrey 2nd XI, pushed forward by Surrey academy director Gareth Townsend. Last winter he played for England Under-19s in South Africa and scored a century in the second Youth Test.

Sibley should have returned to Whitgift School to begin his final year studying Geography, English and PE but was given time off to play the final three fixtures of the season. How he would have cursed missing an innings on a wicket this flat.

A-levels will be no trouble for Sibley if he can knuckle down for his exams as he did batting in the morning session. During the first hour he patted back six maidens and found the "Yorkshire Wall" of six men catching in front of the bat impossible to impregnate - inspiration or desperation, it was certainly innovative from Andrew Gale.

After 70 minutes Sibley was finally able to play a shot in anger as Ryan Sidebottom took the second new ball and Sibley punched him off the back foot for three through cover. Fifteen minutes later his second aggressive stroke came with a cover drive off Jack Brooks. In total he needed 98 deliveries to take his overnight 81 to three figures, which arrived via a swept four off Adil Rashid.

"It was more relief this morning to get to a hundred," Sibley said. "I didn't get much of a chance to score, they bowled well at me and when I did get there I was quite emotional.

"I try to keep a familiarity with the way I bat; I always take my guard before each delivery. I keep everything the same and that keeps my tempo going.

"I felt good at Somerset and I was disappointed that I didn't get a big score but I'm pleased that I've got a big one before the end of the season. Doing it here at The Oval is great. I had my parents here and my dad came back from Singapore last night."

He loosened up in the afternoon and enjoyed his time with Hashim Amla, having told his mum he wanted to bat with Amla before he returned to South Africa. The pair added the highest third-wicket partnership for Surrey against Yorkshire which helped Surrey make their highest total against Yorkshire in a first-class match.

It was too easy for Amla. It was too easy for Vikram Solanki who made 51 in 54 balls. And it may never be easier for Sibley. However, his epic nearly didn't happen. He was dropped on just 8 on the second day and should have been held on 159 by Jonny Bairstow: a very simple chance from a thin edge. It was a bad lapse in concentration by the reserve wicketkeeper in England's Ashes squad.

Bairstow did not have a great birthday as he also suffered a nervous moment when he slipped near the pavilion boundary having chased a lost cause to fine leg. He fell awkwardly and Jason Gillespie came tearing down from the dressing room with a worried brow but after a few overs of gingerly movement, Bairstow could go back to worrying about his wicketkeeping.

Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2013, 9:02 GMT

    Dominic's dad Mark is well known in cricketing circles at one time brokering the sale of TV rights by the ECB to Sky and some involvement in the history of CricInfo. Good pedigree, Mark you must be a very proud dad.

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2013, 8:34 GMT

    This guy is a fantastic advert for believing in young ENGLISH players instead of splashing out on overseas players. My good man, despite me being from Sussex, I salute you and hope that you whallop as many counties as you can around the park on the way to making a successful career

  • chandra on September 27, 2013, 11:34 GMT

    Well done Sibley! I hope Surrey will do their best to keep these talented youngsters. The problem with Surrey is that they let their talented young players to go else where and then getting discarded old players from other club. I hope that the hew head coach address this issue.

  • Jason on September 27, 2013, 9:24 GMT

    Congratulations to the youngman, hopefully it will be a spring board to greater things, and a list of promising opening batsmen around the country.

    It also bodes well for surrey who have had a couple of years to forget, what with a number of the squad leaving or going on sabbaticals after Young Maynards untimely death.

    The 2nd Division should help them consolidate and I look forward to seeing them in the top division in 2015.

  • Richard on September 27, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    I was there for his 2nd hundred yesterday. He never seemed particularly rushed and in that sense in was unremarkable within its remarkableness, aside from a couple of darts down the track for six.

    I should point out that the pitch was dead as a dodo and you know the bowling attack are being generous when Adam Lyth (7 first class wickets at 58) is thrown the 2nd new ball after 21 overs. But nonetheless you can only score against what is put in front of you - so well played that man.

    Congratulations also to Adil Rashid ahead of time when he reaches his less distinguished "double hundred" tomorrow. Far too many short balls and only troubled the batsman when he pushed it through more quickly.

  • Chris on September 27, 2013, 8:12 GMT

    The 'Yorkshire Wall' impossible to impregnate!? Steady on! ('Penetrate', shurely? Ed.)

  • Jeremy on September 27, 2013, 7:43 GMT

    As an umpire I have had the great privilege of watching Dominic score two previous double-centuries in County U-17 cricket, the first when aged just 15. He reminds me a lot of Alastair Cook in the way he goes abou tpatiently building a long innings. He is also personable, modest and smart. Not only is he a future England player, he is also a future England captain.

  • Ohhhh on September 26, 2013, 23:30 GMT

    Sibley, Lees, Root(c), Vince, Ballance, Stokes, Bairstow(wk), Woakes, Finn, Mills, Briggs

    The future is bright, the future is England!

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2013, 22:18 GMT

    Congrats Dominic, you are the future of English Cricket Well done Surrey Selectors

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2013, 21:45 GMT

    As a Yorks fan I say big congratulations to young Sibley ! Runs apart, concentrating for 10 hours isn't easy at his age (I've a teenage son so know what I'm talking about). No pressure, but here's hoping he'll play many such innings for Surrey and England in future ... just not against Yorkshire, please :-)

    And good luck in your 'A' Levels m'lad !!