Rob Key says the dropped Dom Sibley does not have the game for Test cricket and hopes England’s batsmen take captain Joe Root’s positive attitude to the crease as they look to fight back against India.
The slow-scoring Sibley has been axed from the squad for the third Test in Leeds from next Wednesday having managed just one half-century in his last 15 innings.
England are 1-0 down in the five-match contest after capitulating to a 151-run defeat on day five of the second Test at Lord’s as they were rolled for 120 in their second innings.
“I was never picking Sibley in this series. I know this sounds harsh but he doesn’t play cricket the way I think you should do,” Key said after the Warwickshire batsman was left out of a 15-man squad which includes the recalled Dawid Malan.
- Dom Sibley dropped for third Test, Dawid Malan called up
England vs India
August 25, 2021, 10:00am
“You have to be able to counterpunch, got to be able to throw something back to the bowler. It’s not just about hanging around and trying to take the shine off the ball. His upside is not great enough.
“England have to mirror their captain, Root, and the way he plays.
“That’s not easy to do as he is one of the best players England have ever had but you can’t just go out there and block your way to beating this India team. It’s not going to work.
“You can’t just look to survive, you have to come out swinging. That doesn’t mean slogging but it means having a go and going toe-to-toe with this India team. Then you might have a chance.
Key expects Malan – who scored one hundred, in Perth, and six half-centuries in 15 Tests between July 2017 and August 2018 – to bat at No 3 at Headingley, with Haseeb Hameed moving up to partner Rory Burns at the top of the order.
Malan is the top-ranked T20 international batsman in the world, passing fifty 12 times in 30 innings in the format, including on debut against South Africa in Cardiff in 2017.
Key’s fellow Sky Sports pundit Ebony Rainford-Brent said: “England need confidence – players who are going to come in and handle the pressure and intensity. Malan is someone who has handled the pressure since he came into England’s T20 side.
He got 199 in his only first-class innings of the summer so he will have a little bit of confidence in the longest format of the game. For me, he is a match-winning cricketer.
“I had a sneaky suspicion he might get into the side ahead of the Ashes and he has his opportunity earlier than expected. He will be under pressure but if he performs he could revive another part of his career.”
There were tensions on the field in the second Test, seemingly starting when Jasprit Bumrah delivered a number of balls in at the body while bowling to James Anderson on the third evening.
England then targeted Bumrah with short deliveries on the fifth morning, although the Indian had the last laugh, sharing an 89-run stand for the ninth wicket with Mohammed Shami as the tourists rallied from 209-8 to 298-8 before declaring – and then skittling the hosts in 51.5 overs.
“India are coming out at this England team and it’s good to watch,” added Key. “People will say you don’t want kids sledging but that Test was unbelievable with what was going on. It was great theatre.
“This is the best Indian team I’ve seen come to England. Forget about the fact England aren’t in the place in Test cricket they were a few years ago. This is a proper Indian team.
“They have the batting, the bowling. Kohli hasn’t fired yet with the bat but he just gives them something as a captain that they haven’t had before.”
Watch the third Test between England and India, at Emerald Headingley in Leeds, live on Sky Sports Cricket and Sky Sports Main Event from 10am on Wednesday, August 25.
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