At the age of just 18 years and 21 days, Ashtead CC opener and still-schoolboy Dominic Sibley has broken all sorts of records on his way to an unbeaten 220 on a remarkable day at the KIA Oval.
Starting the morning unbeaten on 81, after Surrey’s highest opening partnership of the season between him and Rory Burns (82) yesterday, Sibley, understandably nervous, took almost 100 minutes of the opening session to register the 19 runs he needed to become Surrey’s youngest ever centurion in First Class cricket. But when the moment finally happened, a full toss from former England spinner Adil Rashid in which he swept to the deep backward square boundary, emotions of the highest order exploded out of the young man’s body as he realised what he had done.
What is most impressive though is that not once did he lose concentration, or if he did he did well to hide it, immediately focussing back on his job by hitting Rashid for another boundary the ball after he went to his ton. He was batting at the time with the world’s number 1 Test and ODI batsmen Hashim Amla after nightwatchman Tim Linley had been dismissed, which is a distant dream of most 18 year old’s who aspire to play First Class cricket. Amla was determined to catch Sibley up, with the pair putting on 236 for the 3rd wicket; a record against Yorkshire. Despite Sibley being on 85 when the South African walked to the crease, he only just managed to reach his 150 before his partner, who did it remarkably quicker than the 18 year old. It was Amla’s first century for Surrey after previously recording 4 half centuries, and he raced to 150 off just 151 balls compared to Sibley’s 394.
Amla fell for 151 and because of Sibley he will hardly get a look in in tomorrow’s press, but don’t underestimate the impact he most likely had on Sibley’s innings today. Sibley remained at the same tempo as he had done for the previous day and a half, determined to make a double hundred, whilst Vikram Solanki played as fluent as ever. He blasted 51 off 54 balls with 3 sixes, before he was caught on the fence looking to pass 1000 Championship runs in the season with a six, meaning he fell just 5 runs short of the feat.
Sibley kept going and moved more fluently than he had done earlier in the day to reach his 100 and when he danced down the track to Kane Williamson and hit him through the leg side for 4 when on 199, he created all sorts of records for himself. He has become the youngest batsmen to hit a double century in the County Championship since its inception in 1890. He is the second youngest batsmen to hit a double century in First Class cricket in England after the little known WG Grace. And he is also the 13th youngest batsmen in the history of the game to hit a double century in First Class cricket.
Just let those records sink in for a moment. Records for a boy who was only playing because Whitgift School gave him permission to miss four days of his A-Levels. Imagine when he goes back and all his mates ask him, “Dom, why were you not here this week?” and he can give them the answer that anyone would dream of. But no doubt they will all know of his wonderful achievement, as it has quite rightly been plastered all over media outlets across the web and most likely tomorrow’s newspapers.
I first became aware of Sibley when he was just 15, as he hit a double hundred for Ashtead in the Surrey Premier League against bowlers such as Jimmy Ormond. It was obvious he had an incredible talent, and he hit yet another double hundred for the Surrey academy last year, showing that when he bats big, he certainly bats big!
He played for the England Under 19’s earlier this year, hitting a century in one of the games, but a deep cut in his leg suffered on his YB40 debut kept him out of the Under 19 games against Pakistan this summer that he surely would have played in. He only made his First Class debut a couple of weeks ago, just after he turned 18, scoring 12 and 10 against Somerset before registering a duck at Edgbaston last week.
No one would have seen an innings of this magnitude coming so soon and with Surrey 572-4, a lead of 138, he will most likely try and add to his 220* tomorrow morning and try and add to the 9 hours and 41 minutes that he has spent at the crease.
All that is left to say is, Dom Sibley: remember the name.