Toiler's luck finally changes

Ryan Sidebottom is unlikely to be remembered as one of England's all-time great bowlers. Time is not on his side. He is 30 and is not a natural athlete. Matthew Hoggard and Stephen Harmison, the two bowlers he has carried for the past year, do not have to fear that he will surpass their tally of victims.

But what Sidebottom has made since reclaiming his England place against West Indies last June is a huge impression, even before yesterday, when he became the 11th England bowler to take ahat-trick in Test cricket. In the10 Tests he has played since reselection, he has shown what fast-medium bowling is about.

It is great to be able to bowl at electrifying speed and swing the ball round corners, but most bowlers do not have those weapons in their armoury.The majority of pacemen try to make the most of what they have, get on with the job and do the best they can. That is what Sidebottom does.

Many top sportsmen are high- maintenance. Dealing with them is like dealing with a catwalk model, all moods, money and me. They demand that everything is right, and if it is not a little tantrum is thrown. But there is nothing haughty about Sidebottom – he just works his socks off in the nets and gives it his all in the middle.

With him, life is honest and simple. He is extremely proud to represent his country and plays every game as though it could be his last. His father, Arnie, the former Yorkshire and England bowler, was exactly the same.

I would suggest Sidebottom is a slightly different bowler to the one that played for Nottinghamshire in 2005, when he claimed 50 wickets at an average of 22 to guide his side to the County Championship. Duncan Fletcher, England's previous coach, refused to pick him because he said he was not quick enough. As Arnie wonderfully said this week: "Fletcher rated bowlers who bowled at 85mph but he didn't rate those who bowled at the stumps."

At Trent Bridge, Sidebottom claimed most of his wickets through swing and accuracy, even though he has been the fastest bowler in England's side this week, averaging three miles an hour more than Harmison.

The extra effort required to produce that pace has probably prevented Sidebottom swinging the ball as he did, but that is no bad thing. Swing is a wonderful option for a bowler, but the majority of Test cricket's most successful fast bowlers have been tall, aggressive men who hit the pitch as hard as they can with the ball. Such an approach increases the chance of indifferent bounce, and it is bounce combined with accuracy that allowed the likes of Curtly Ambrose, Glenn McGrath, Shaun Pollock and Courtney Walsh to take most of their scalps.

Before yesterday, Sidebottom was seen as an unlucky bowler. Against India last summer and on England's pre-Christmas tour of Sri Lanka, he had numerous catches dropped and little went his way. But he has been around long enough to know that fortune will change and things will even themselves out, and that is just what happened as he took 5 for 37 in 14 overs.

The Hoggard catch that got him going was an absolute beauty, but a fast bowler does not expect to take Test wickets at deep midwicket. The two deliveries that dismissed Stephen Fleming and Matthew Sinclair were ordinary too. It was the catches that were special, especially Alastair Cook's catch that dismissed Sinclair – it was an absolute cracker.

The hat-trick ball was the best of the lot; it was straight and would have hit the top of middle and off. Sidebottom deserved his luck and England are luckyto have him.

Six of the best

England's last half-dozen hat-tricks:

1. Tom Goddard v South Africa, Johannesburg 1938-39 (victims A D Nourse, N Gordon, W W Wade)

2. Peter Loader v West Indies, Headingley 1957 (J D C Goddard, S Ramadhin, R Gilchrist)

3. Dominic Cork v West Indies,Old Trafford 1995 (R B Richardson, J R Murray, C L Hooper)

4. Darren Gough v Australia,Sydney 1998-99 (I A Healy, S C G MacGill, C R Miller)

5. Matthew Hoggard v West Indies, Barbados 2003-04 (R R Sarwan,S Chanderpaul, R O Hinds)

6. Ryan Sidebottom v New Zealand, Hamilton 2007-08 (S P Fleming,M S Sinclair, J D P Oram).

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
newsIt was due to be auctioned off for charity
Voices
'That's the legal bit done. Now on to the ceremony!'
voicesThe fight for marriage equality isn't over yet, says Siobhan Fenton
Arts and Entertainment
Bianca Miller and Katie Bulmer-Cooke are scrutinised by Lord Sugar's aide Nick Hewer on The Apprentice final
tvBut Bianca Miller has taken on board his comments over pricing
News
in picturesWounded and mangy husky puppy rescued from dump
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all
The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

The week Hollywood got scared and had to grow up a bit

Sony suffered a chorus of disapproval after it withdrew 'The Interview', but it's not too late for it to take a stand, says Joan Smith
From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?

Panto dames: before and after

From Widow Twankey to Mother Goose, how do the men who play panto dames get themselves ready for the performance of a lifetime?
Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Thirties murder mystery novel is surprise runaway Christmas hit

Booksellers say readers are turning away from dark modern thrillers and back to the golden age of crime writing
Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best,' says founder of JustGiving

Anne-Marie Huby: 'Charities deserve the best'

Ten million of us have used the JustGiving website to donate to good causes. Its co-founder says that being dynamic is as important as being kind
The botanist who hunts for giant trees at Kew Gardens

The man who hunts giants

A Kew Gardens botanist has found 25 new large tree species - and he's sure there are more out there
The 12 ways of Christmas: Spare a thought for those who will be working to keep others safe during the festive season

The 12 ways of Christmas

We speak to a dozen people who will be working to keep others safe, happy and healthy over the holidays
Birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends, new study shows

The male exhibits strange behaviour

A new study shows that birdwatching men have a lot in common with their feathered friends...
Diaries of Evelyn Waugh, Virginia Woolf and Noël Coward reveal how they coped with the December blues

Famous diaries: Christmas week in history

Noël Coward parties into the night, Alan Clark bemoans the cost of servants, Evelyn Waugh ponders his drinking…
From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

From noble to narky, the fall of the open letter

The great tradition of St Paul and Zola reached its nadir with a hungry worker's rant to Russell Brand, says DJ Taylor
A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore: A prodigal daughter has a breakthrough

A Christmas ghost story by Alison Moore

The story was published earlier this month in 'Poor Souls' Light: Seven Curious Tales'