Australia legends Mark Waugh and Shane Warne have criticised Dom Sibley, claiming the England opener should not play in next winter’s Ashes series.
Warwickshire’s Sibley has endured a mixed start to his Test career, scoring two hundreds and five fifties in 20 matches.
While he has occasionally seen off the new ball and set a platform for England – which is more than can be said for some of his predecessors – he has been dismissed for 15 single-figure scores in 35 innings, while his rhythm at the crease has also become an issue in the eyes of some pundits.
Assessing England’s batting line-up on Fox Cricket’s Road to the Ashes podcast, Waugh said: ‘I look at their stats and they’re all averaging about 30. There’s just no quality there and I don’t know why there’s no depth in England.
‘Someone like Dom Sibley, he can’t score. You can’t come to Australia with Sibley and [Rory] Burns opening because they can’t score.
‘He hasn’t got any shots, Dom Sibley, he’s not a Test player. Quite frankly I don’t know how he got to that level to get picked, there must be a shortage of players there.’
Former leg-spinner Warne added: ‘With Dom Sibley, I just don’t know how he can play Test cricket.
‘As a bowler, you worry about batsmen who can hurt you. The England middle order are suffering because the bowlers they play against have got their tails up because they’re not getting hurt by Burns and Sibley.
‘They can’t punish them, they can’t hurt them on any level. All they can do is survive and see off the shine, that’s no good. You’ve got to put pressure on the bowlers and these two can’t do that.’
Former captain Michael Vaughan also believes England’s batting is ‘fragile’ and incapable of posting scores in Australia to retain the Ashes.
He believes promoting current No. 3 Zak Crawley to open in replace of Sibley and recalling the No. 1 T20 batsman in the world, Dawid Malan, could be a shrewd move for Chris Silverwood’s side.
‘The batting line-up is fragile, it is as simple as that,’ Vaughan said. ‘[Jos] Buttler, [Ben] Stokes will come back in, [Chris] Woakes – yes, they will improve the team but unless that batting line-up changes and can learn and understand how to get big scores against good bowlers, I can’t see how they can compete.
‘It’s going to be tough to beat India on these shores but Australia will get 450-500, I can’t see it unless they make one or two changes.
‘I’d bring in Dawid Malan back in at No. 3. Apparently he is not popular but you know what, who gives a hoot if he scores runs, that’s what I like to see. He’s got a bit of experience, he played well against you guys in Australia last time.
‘I’d put him at No. 3, I’d put Crawley in to open. I know that’s a bit of fortune for Crawley because he hasn’t got as many runs but I think he can play.
‘I’d leave [Rory] Burns, Crawley, Malan, Root, Stokes, Ollie Pope at six, Buttler at seven, Woakes at eight. Will that be a good enough eight to get big, big scores? I think it’d be a better chance than the seven I saw against New Zealand. They were very, very fragile.’
Earlier this month, England were condemned to their first home series defeat since 2014 as New Zealand enjoyed their first success on these shores in 22 years.
Later in the summer, England face India in a five-match Test series, before Joe Root’s red-ball side turn their attentions to an Ashes tour of Australia.
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