DateLine: 13th February 2006
The thing that most cricket lovers will mention first about Ryan Sidebottom is his hair. Ginger, curly and long, it is probably the most flamboyant style ever sported by an English Test cricketer. However, he has enough ability, with his left-arm swing bowling, to ensure that it is his bowling that is most prominently mentioned in discussions about him in the future. A good start to his county career, and then a great A tour to the West Indies in 2000-1 gave Sidebottom his Test debut against Pakistan in 2001, after his Yorkshire colleagues Craig White and Matthew Hoggard were ruled out through injury. Despite being wicketless, he didn’t disgrace himself with the ball or in his stint as night-watchman. However, he was very definitely the fourth seamer under Alec Stewart’s stand-in captaincy, and for the Second Test he was replaced by Hoggard, despite England having won by an innings. Two ODI’s against Zimbabwe that winter, where he was expensive, then set back his claim for further selection. He did have the consolation of having played a part in Yorkshire’s Championship triumph that summer though. Despite maintaining consistent form, Sidebottom left Headingley at the end of 2003, after being in and out of the first team. He moved to Trent Bridge, where in his second season he took 50 First-class wickets for the first time as Nottinghamshire won the Championship. There was a further positive for him when, with Simon Jones and Chris Tremlett ruled out of the tour to Pakistan in the winter of 2005, the whisper was that he would be next in line for a call (after Liam Plunkett), thanks to his ability to reverse swing an old ball. With a Test cap and two Championship medals with two different teams, Sidebottom has already achieved more at the age of 27 then many good players have on retirement. He inherited his red hair from father Arnie, who was a Yorkshire stalwart of the 1970’s and 1980’s, and who also played a solitary Test for England. They are the tenth father and son to play Test cricket for England, although if Ryan remains a member of the one cap club though, there will be a feeling of unfulfilled talent.
(Article: Copyright © 2006 Matthew Reed)