Thanks to Englandâ€™s decision to delay their squad announcement until 4pm yesterday afternoon, I was stuck on the A45 in rush hour by the time some vaguely pertinent details crackled over the radio. Jammed into a minibus with cricketers with various levels of interest in the national game, needless to say, the news of Ryan Sidebottomâ€™s inclusion received a predominant chorus of â€˜Who?â€™
It is a curious choice. It is certainly not one for the future â€“ while 29 is by no means ancient, and Stuart Clark has shown it possible to found an international bowling career in your thirties, Graham Onions is fit and in form even if Stuart Broad is not. Nor is this a Shah incident, where a consistent county performer has filled an injury hole. In fact, Sidebottom does not presently rank as even Nottinghamshireâ€™s top performer, being out-averaged by Ealham and out-wicketed by Shreck. The same occurred last season, and only last week, teammate Mark Wagh was talking up Shreckâ€™s chances of an England cap. So what brings the potential of a second Test cap to top Sidebottomâ€™s distinctive curly locks?
After Plunkett and Harmison dealt so poorly with an undercooked West Indian batting line-up, it is only natural that England look for variation â€“ and thus, to the left arm seamer. The former Yorkshire stalwart may not be the most in form or reliable of options, but at least he is something different. True, Sidebottom is unlikely to play a part. However, it may just be that while Moores publicly backs his Durham seamers to come good, there is a feeling that something, indeed anything, different might be what is needed to take 11 wickets. Of course, it can’t hurt that a substantial part of the now Nottingham player’s game was developed at Headingley. Interestingly, Sidebottomâ€™s only previous Test cap was due to an injury to Hoggard some 6 years ago. Might he be adding to his headwear in similar circumstances by the weekend?