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Ryan Sidebottom’s mighty zeal for England Test win
Ryan Sidebottom has been there, done it and bought the t-shirt when it comes to a Test series in New Zealand.
A ten-wicket match haul including a hat-trick, a career-best seven wickets in an innings and a come-from-behind 2-1 series win were all part of his experience in early 2008 under the captaincy of Michael Vaughan and the coaching of Peter Moores.
The Yorkshire swing bowler expects England’s current crop of Test stars, including county colleagues Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow, to enjoy a similar result during the forthcoming series, starting in Dunedin tonight.
As Sidebottom and company were five years ago, Alastair Cook’s side are the resounding favourites for this series as well. But they will be looking to do things a little easier and avoid a 1-0 deficit.
That England turned it around against a Stephen Fleming-led side was largely down to Sidebottom’s brilliance with the new ball in a series which saw Yorkshire’s Matthew Hoggard dropped and Jimmy Anderson provided with the springboard for his excellent career.
Sidebottom took ten wickets in the first Test at Hamilton, including a hat-trick in the second innings, before taking five wickets in the second innings of the second Test at Wellington and 7-47 in the first innings of the decider at Napier.
He finished as the man of the series with 24 wickets at 17.08, more than twice as many as anybody else.
Not surprisingly, it is a memory he cherishes. “That tour was definitely one of the highlights of my career,” he said.
“Going into that Test series I’d bowled well before Christmas in Sri Lanka with not much reward. I took that form onto New Zealand, but everything seemed to click for me.
“My dad and family were out there for the Test half of the trip, and it all seemed to fall into place. I really enjoyed it. Everything about it was brilliant, the place, the people, the weather and the cricket for us.”
On his hat-trick, which included the wickets of Matthew Sinclair, Fleming and Jacob Oram, he remembered: “It was all a bit bizarre. It was definitely a bit lucky.
“I had two great catches taken off me by Alastair Cook. I bowled a wide pie to Stephen Fleming, which was meant to be a yorker. It was reversing at the time, but he got bat on it and Cookie took a good catch low down.
“I then got Sinclair and Jacob Oram, who I had a bit of success against. I just knew that I had to get it full and straight.”
Then it came to his seven-for at Napier. “We got bowled out for not much in the first innings and Mooresy had a bit of a chat to the bowlers, telling us to pull our fingers out,” he said. “We responded and bowled really well as a unit.
“Looking back you sometimes bowl well and don’t get the rewards and someone else does. It happened to me in Sri Lanka. It was Stuart Broad in New Zealand.”
With England having gone from strength to strength since, including two Ashes series wins and a double success against the Kiwis in coloured clothing recently, it would be a major surprise if there were any slip-ups this time around.
But Sidebottom has a warning for captain Cook and his men. “New Zealand are renowned for having a fighting spirit,” he said.
“They’re not the biggest cricketing nation, but they showed in South Africa that they have a bit about them. They went close in the Twenty20s, got hammered in the Tests, but responded to win the one-dayers against one of the best teams in the world.
“If they have their best team out, there’s no reason why they can’t challenge. I still expect England to be too strong for them overall.”
And on the boy-wonder Root, he added: “He’s been great. It’s no surprise for us here at Yorkshire. He’s very level-headed, works really hard and has been rewarded.”
Root is expected to bat at number six for England.