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Goodbye England, hello again Headingley

Goodbye England, hello again Headingley

Ryan Sidebottom’s retirement from international cricket brings to light two fruitful, wider cricketing points.

The ex-Nottinghamshire left armer, made his England debut in 2001, but then had to wait another six years for his next international opportunity to arise when he was selected for the 2007 home Test series against West Indies. In the following three years [2007-2010] the 32 year-old was rewarded for his gruelling spell of hard graft in county cricket graft to earn a second England reprieve where he bagged a Test hat-trick and a man of the series against New Zealand, and let’s not forget his starring role in England’s surprise World Twenty20 accomplishment.

But what Sidebottom’s career stands for in the grander scheme of things gives hope, optimism and a chance to those dozens of aspiring county cricketers who toil patiently for many hours awaiting their opening. Famed for his long, chaotic hair Sidebottom handled the disheartening tag of being labelled a so called “one Test wonder” by working tirelessly away in county cricket, bowling an ever consistent line and length, taking wickets and putting up with a less than glamorous limelight compared to previous experience.

Maintaining a hard work rate paid dividends when Sidebottom was again noticed by the English hierarchy, earning himself his new dawn, and his dedication and motivation to fight against the cricketing powers that be should serve as a recipe for all after him to follow – he is proof hard work does not go unnoticed. There have been other notable examples of similar attainment in the game, but Sidebottom’s story should act as a stepping stone for many to look upon and take an affluent leaf out of his book.

One notion which is seldom mentioned is how Sidebottom’s fitness demise acted as a worthwhile wake-up call to England’s Coach, Andy Flower, his backroom team and international cricket. Whilst Sidebottom’s immediate form in the international arena earned him a glut of plaudits, the toil of playing cricket all year round for a player plucked from the rigours of county cricket took its toll as injury derailed the latter half of his England career. So the answer to lessening the stresses and strains on a bowling unit? Strength and conditioning training. Fearful of fatigue and burn-out, England have at times this summer rested, for example, Stuart Broad, to allow work in the gym, vigorously rebuilding bowling bodies which take their fair share of pain throughout a busy, year-long schedule, let alone over the course of the career.

This fitness method has enabled England to concentrate on keeping their star performers fresh, therefore reducing the impact of injuries, and all because they looked at how rapid the latter part of Sidebottom’s career declined.

On the surface they do not look like two incidents of note, but scratch a little deeper and when Sidebottom is inserted into the mix they release considerable ground. Ryan Sidebottom will not go down as one of English crickets greats, but he might have changed the face of English cricket in more ways than one. Having retired from international cricket, and having enjoyed a benefit in 2010 at his adopted county Nottinghamshire, Sidebottom chose to move on in order to secure a three year contract in County cricket. As things turned out he has moved backwards rather than forwards, to the broad acres of his native Yorkshire, where he will hope to recapture the form that catapulted him into international contention in the first place.

Siddy’s numbers

22 Test Matches – 79 wickets at 28.24 and a stike rate of 60.91
25 ODI’s – 29 wickets at 35.82 with an economy rate of 4.88
18 International T20’s – 58 wickets at 20.96 with an economy rate of 6.89

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