Sidebottom seeks to reignite career
With the Ashes secured and rain helping England escape the first Twenty20 at Old Trafford after a rocky start to the run chase, their aim is now to leave Australia empty-handed throughout their tour. Next on the list is victory on Tuesday to take the Twenty20 series then the focus will shift to the seven-match ODI campaign.
Often when England have enjoyed Test success in the past their one-day form has tailed off as players lose focus with the major prize secured. However, since the urn was recaptured at The Oval the talk from the England camp has been about becoming a dominant force in all formats and the next Test is not until the middle of December at Centurion Park. Until then, it's limited overs all the way.
"We're all pretty close as a team. It would be an ideal situation to beat Australia in all forms of the game and send them home not winning everything, which is a great determination in the team to do that," Ryan Sidebottom said. "We want to be number one in all areas of the game. I suppose we're a young side and we've got to do well in all forms of the game. We're the ones with the responsibility of going out there and putting on a performance. Obviously we know Australia are very strong and are a good side, but we've got some good players."
For Sidebottom, success in the one-day arena over the next few weeks takes on even greater personal significance. In the past 12 months he has only appeared in three Tests and a single ODI after a series of injuries. He first struggled against South Africa last year then subsequently picked up further problems in India and West Indies, leaving him fighting to regain a spot, and he has admitted he played when not fully fit. However, he impressed during the World Twenty20 and will travel to South Africa for the Champions Trophy at the end of September.
The nearest Sidebottom came to being part of the Ashes action was a place in the squads for the Tests at Headingley and The Oval. He was close to playing in Leeds before the selectors opted for the pace of Steve Harmison and Sidebottom admits watching from outside hasn't been easy.
"It's been really tough, really frustrating being at home sitting watching games with England winning and bowlers performing well. You don't want injuries or guys not to do well, but from a selfish point of view it was pretty gutting. I want to play as much as possible like any other player. I want to do well for England.
"From a jealous point of view I would have loved to have been a part of that, but I wasn't and you have to get on with it. I've got some great mates and I'm happy for them they've done fantastically well so it's pleasing to see."
There is one school of thought that Sidebottom may have peaked as a Test bowler during his memorable 18 months following a recall in 2007, six years after his debut, when he became England's leading weapon and their player of the year. However, the man himself still believes he has plenty to offer if he gets another opportunity and in the next few weeks he will find out whether he will retain a central contract.
His chances could be boosted as the selectors look to fill the pace-bowling slot vacated by Andrew Flintoff, and possibly another if Harmison also retires. After returning to Nottinghamshire, losing a few pounds and working on his fitness, he feels his body can stand up the rigours of a full international calendar.
"I still feel as though I've got a lot to offer. In the Twenty20 World Cup I bowled really well, I performed pretty well during that time," he said. "The Test arena guys have done well, it's been a great team performance. There's nothing I can do about that, all I can do is my job and keep plugging away.
"To be honest what will be, will be. I've done all I can really. Injuries have not helped of course, but I suppose with Freddie's retirement and maybe Harmy thinking about it that might help me in some sense. But I'm not going to worry about it. All I can do is if I get selected for England in these one-dayers which are vitally important, the Champions Trophy is important for me to do well, if I do well in those competitions then that is going to help my cause. The rewards are great with being centrally contracted, but that's not the be all and end all."
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo