Mat Collis
13th January 2020

Rhodes: “Everyone here is so proud of him”

Warwickshire Captain was full of praise for his vice following his maiden century for England in South Africa.

Whilst Dom Sibley was fulfilling his lifelong dream of scoring a Test century for England in Cape Town, 9,000 miles north his teammates at Edgbaston watched on.

The Bears had returned from their Christmas break, a far cry from the Western Cape’s beautiful sunshine, and started their pre-season testing under the watchful eye of Strength and Conditioning Coach Jack Murfin.

The players, in group of fours, headed into the gym whilst the others waiting for the call watched the ‘nervous nineties’.

"Credit to the bloke he’s a great character to have around the dressing room."

Will Rhodes

When Sibley edged Kagiso Rabada for four through a vacant third man to move to 99 off 266 balls, the squad gathered and waited as the over came to a close.

The first ball of the next, the 93rd in the innings, went for two with Ben Stokes following with a single.

Next? A padded away dot, and another, before Sibley pounced and ruthlessly swept Keshav Maharaj for four and his maiden ton.

The ensuing noise at Newlands was loud, the Barmy Army was in full applause.

In B5 it was just as loud as coaches, players and staff celebrated a special achievement.

“It shows from the lads on social media that everyone here is so proud of him,” said Warwickshire Captain Will Rhodes.

“Credit to the bloke he’s a great character to have around the dressing room and he’s such a presence in and outside the dressing room.

“It’s not really fazed him when he’s received criticism on his technique but I think that’s worked for him all his life.

“That style of play has come to good use now and he faced over 300 balls so he’s got a plan.

“Last year was the perfect sign of what he is. He bats long, he bats big and he gets the team in a good position.”

Rhodes is no stranger to Sibley’s temperament and patient style.

As his opening partner, the 24-year-old has the best seat in the house whilst the Bears Vice-Captain does his fine work.

The pair partnered for the first time in the opening game of the 2018 season against Sussex, but it wasn’t their first introduction together.

The duo both represented England during the 2014 Under-19s World Cup in Dubai with Rhodes captaining the side to third.

“It was probably the summer after when we start playing Test matches when he made an impression,” Rhodes added.

“I think he got a few runs then and you knew he was a top player.

“He got a big score when he was 18 years old against Yorkshire so I think all the lads at Yorkshire knew he was a good player then and he’s kicked off ever since.”

Sibley, 24 himself, will be looking to build on his ton and 39.66 average during the third Test in Port Elizabeth which starts on Thursday.

Rhodes meanwhile will be continuing the hard yards of winter training and encouraging his young troops to watch and learn.

“There’s a lot of inspiration for the young lads to progress and go and play for England,” Rhodes concluded.

“We’ve seen Olly Stone do it, we’ve seen Sibbers do it and there’s a lot of guys in that age category who are ready to push on in first-class cricket and go for further honours.

“I think there’s no reason why we can’t have a couple more players in the next couple of years pushing for England places.

“You see Henry Brookes and Sam Hain in the Lions team and they fly out soon, so hopefully they can do well out there.”

Back home, Rhodes is encouraged ahead of the new campaign.

The Bears opening fixture at Somerset is less than 90 days away with their pre-season tour to La Manga kickstarting in eight weeks.

“It’s pretty scary that we go on tour in less than two months, especially looking at the weather. It’s pretty grim out there!” Rhodes said with a smile.

“This is the period of training where the lads start to get excited. The real hard yards are done and now the skills-based training kicks in.

“The bowlers have done their own thing, the same with the batters, and I think in a couple of weeks we’ll start our scenario-based training where we chat to players about their roles in the side and stuff like that.

“The lads are in a good position and being an all-rounder I’ve seen both groups. They’re striking the ball well and looking fit, strong and healthy so hopefully, that can continue into the season.”

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