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Dominic Sibley has turned down a new three-year contract at Surrey to join Warwickshire after receiving promises that he would bat in the top order in all three forms of the game.
Alec Stewart, Surrey's director of cricket, admitted that Sibley's decision was "bitterly disappointing" and stressed that he had a philosophical resistance to giving players guarantees in the unpredictable world of professional sport.
Stewart said: "Dom was offered a very good three-year contract but has told me the reason he is leaving is that he feels his opportunities at Warwickshire would be greater, given the written assurances he has received that he will be batting in the top three in all forms of the game next year.
"In performance sport, this was not something that I was prepared to do - for him or any of our players - as we will always select the best possible XI for each occasion and it would be wrong to give anyone these guarantees.
"We've had numerous conversations with Dom and his advisors over the last eleven months and I'm comfortable in knowing that we could not have done any more in showing how much we wanted him to be a big part of this club.
"We believe we were moving Dom in the right direction and are bitterly disappointed he has chosen to leave us at this stage of his career."
Warwickshire have not commented on the matter of where Sibley will bat but Ashley Giles, the club's sport director, welcomed the latest addition to an "exciting young squad" at Edgbaston.
"At 21-years-old, Dominic is an outstanding cricketer with England potential, having already scored two first-class centuries whilst also being an accomplished white-ball batsman," Giles said.
"He has a big role to play for the club across all forms of the game and we're delighted that he has chosen to take this great opportunity to become a Bear and be part of this exciting young squad that we are building."
Sibley first played for Surrey at Under-9 level and has since come through the Academy system. In 2013, he became the second-youngest English player - behind WG Grace - to score a first-class double-hundred, when he made 242 against Yorkshire. He was first offered a three-year deal at the end of last season, which remained on the table for the entirety of this summer but has now been turned down.
This season, he has played seven of Surrey's eight Specsavers County Championship matches, averaging 33, with no centuries and four fifties. He started four of the ten games played in the Royal London Cup and has so far played every match of the NatWest T20 Blast campaign.