Top drawer from Sidebottom

Zimbabwe Under-19 208 England Under-19 155-1
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Ryan Sidebottom carved himself a little niche in cricket history yesterday by taking 7 for 30 on the opening day of the first Under-19 Test against Zimbabwe here. They were the best figures since these contests began in 1974, surpassing Peter Such's 7 for 72 in 1983.

Moreover, it was all achieved on a pretty good pitch as England's opening pair, Stephen Peters and Robert Key, later illustrated by cruising to 94 in only 18 overs, though not without a certain amount of misfortune and miscalculation by the tourists.

Overall, however, it was Sidebottom's quality that stood out. For a left-arm seam bowler, he has pace. Yorkshire's coach, Steve Oldham, believes there is considerably more to come. He not only swung the new ball but extracted bounce and never looked back after Neil Ferreira had offered no stroke to one that flattened his off stump.

Nor was he without aggression. Spotting Lance Malloch-Brown's tendency to move early on to the front foot, he dug one in to have him caught off a glove to gully. Later, when the ball had lost its hardness, his ability to bowl apparently effortless yorkers and his subtle changes of pace also served him well.

By then Zimbabwe had rebuilt their innings only to cave in when Sidebottom operated for the first time with the breeze behind him from the City end.

In quick succession he bowled Andre Hoffman and the captain Bertus Erasmus, who was beaten for pace and palpably late on a ball of full length. Once Mark Vermulen, who had held things together with a compact half-century, had gone to what must have been a hair-line lbw decision, England at last had two ends to bowl at. Alex Tudor's remarkable one-handed catch removed Colin Delport and Mluleki Nkala was leg before padding up to Dean Cosker's arm ball.

The ease with which Ian Englebrecht and Aubrey Steyne added 47 for the last wicket must have hinted to Zimbabwe's opening bowlers what they were in for and Peters and Key did much as they pleased until Key fell to a full toss. Peters later moved past his half-century from 73 balls, hitting nine fours. But England's success would have been tempered by a mixed day for Tudor, who not only bowled an unacceptable amount of no-balls but was also warned for running on the pitch.