Ryan Jay Sidebottom
January 15, 1978, Huddersfield, Yorkshire
Left hand bat
Left arm fast medium
King James Grammar School, Almondbury
Ryan Sidebottom, with his unruly mop of curly, ginger hair, has long been one of the most recognisable and respected figures on the county circuit. His international career is now behind him but he can draw much satisfaction not only from the manner in which he took a belated second chance in international cricket, but the way that latterly he has committed himself with skill and determination to an extended career on England's professional circuit with Yorkshire, the county of his birth.
Like his father Arnie, who was an accomplished footballer and one-time Test player, Ryan made his county debut for Yorkshire having previously impressed the scouts of Sheffield United Football Club. For much of his career it appeared Sidebottom jnr, a left-armer unlike Arnie, would also follow his father in Test cricket by remaining a one-cap wonder. He was handed his debut in 2001 against Pakistan, but after a wicketless performance was banished back to county cricket. Although he bowled tidily throughout, he was generally considered to be out of his depth and was quickly discarded, and seemingly forgotten after two poor ODIs against Zimbabwe that October. He proved them wrong, possessing a resolve and bowling nous that few had recognised.
He left Yorkshire in 2004 and headed to nearby Nottinghamshire, where he impressed in his first two seasons. The first year there he helped them to a double promotion, and the second year he took 50 first-class wickets to become the Player of the Year and help them to the Championship title for the first time in 18 years.
With Duncan Fletcher, England's coach, obsessed by finding bowlers of true pace, Sidebottom was continually overlooked despite having one of the best records in the country. However, six years after his debut - under the new Peter Moores regime - he was surprisingly recalled after a spate of injuries to England's attack. He responded with eight wickets against West Indies at Headingley, still his spiritual home, and developed into a key member of the line-up. He helped England to a 3-0 win over West Indies before bowling without luck against India.
Equally impressive with the white ball he was Man of the Series as England won the one-day tournament in Sri Lanka, but it was during the New Zealand leg of England's winter that he really shone, decimating the hosts with 24 wickets at 17.08, including 7 for 47 in the final Test in Napier.
Further success followed in the home series against New Zealand, during which he was unveiled as England's Player of the Year, but the pressures of carrying England's attack took their toll, and he struggled for fitness thereafter, culminating in an Achilles injury that limited him to a single wicket in an arduous tour of the Caribbean in February 2009. While injuries dented his opportunities in Test cricket thereafter he became an important member of the one-day side. In the 2010 World Twenty20 in the Caribbean his selection ahead of James Anderson raised a few eyebrows, but he proved the doubters wrong as his fiery and disciplined opening bowling was a crucial part of England's triumph.
His England career, though, ended with his international retirement late in 2010, leaving him to play out time on the domestic scene. After helping Nottinghamshire to a last-gasp Championship title that summer, he returned to his Yorkshire roots for the final stage of his career.
Given that Yorkshire were relegated it was not immediately the return he hoped for, although on a personal level 2011 was a highly successful season. His 62 first-class wickets at 22.00, including three five-wicket hauls and a career best 7 for 37 against Somerset at Headingley, were the most he had taken in a single season. He contributed useful runs, too, including two fifties in an aggregate of 389 in the Championship. His 61 against Worcestershire at New Road was a career best.
He missed a large part of the 2012 promotion season to injury but signed a further contract extension until the end of 2015 towards the end of a summer which saw him lead Yorkshire's Championship bowling records with 49 wickets at 20.30 apiece. He won the Members' Player of the Year award as a result, and hankered after 700 first-class wickets before he took his boots off for the last time. He achieved a landmark achieved by few in spectacular style against Middlesex as Yorkshire completed successive Championship wins, taking four wickets in his first four overs, including a hat-trick, and topping the county averages at 37. Five years on from his international retirement, his longevity was deeply impressive.
As well as leaving his father, Arnie - 596 first-class victims - by now a long way in his slipstream, he also had five Championship titles, adding two with Yorkshire to the three won with Notts. He swung the ball as consistently as any bowler on the county circuit and his accuracy was exemplary. There was life after England after all, just as this salt of Yorkshire earth had always imagined there would be.
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