Discontinuity in schedule is the major reason behind England’s poor run in Tests: Ryan Sidebottom [Interview]

Ryan Sidebottom recalled England's T20 World Cup triumph in 2010.

GAURAV TRIPATHI

Jr. Statistician

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Published - Feb 24, 2022, 08:25 IST | Updated - Feb 25, 2022, 10:22 IST

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Former England pacer Ryan Sidebottom might not have played a lot at the international level. However, he still managed to leave a significant mark. The left-arm fast bowler was able to move the ball both ways and that too at a rapid pace. Sidebottom showcased his brilliance in England colours as well and delivered several match-winning spells. In fact, he played an instrumental role in England’s 2010 T20 World Cup triumph.

Overall, Sidebottom played 65 matches across all formats in international cricket and scalped 131 wickets. He also managed to get into the top 10 ICC bowling rankings in Tests and T20Is. While he announced international retirement in 2010, the pacer continued to wreck havoc in County cricket. Having taken over 750 wickets in First-Class cricket, Sidebottom is among the finest pacers to have served Yorkshire.

In an exclusive interview with CricTracker, Sidebottom opened about many things and made some interesting revelations as well. From shedding light on England’s 2010 T20 World Cup triumph to giving his take on Three Lions’ struggle in the longest format lately, let’s look at how the former pacer responded to our queries.

Here are the excerpts from Ryan Sidebottom’s interview:

You recently played in Legend League Cricket. How was your experience while playing in that league?

I just want to say thank you to the fans. I really enjoyed the tournament. It was brilliant to be a part of Legend League Cricket and to win it is obviously nice, especially after being retired. It was overall a great tournament as you get to play with the likes of Brett Lee and Kevin Pietersen, you play against (Sanath) Jayasuriya and some absolute superstars of the game.

Hopefully, it will be around for many more years to come. It was very special as there were some of my heroes at the tournament. There were Wasim Akram, Chaminda Vaas – both left armers. So, it was wonderful and I enjoyed every minute.

What do you think is the reason behind England’s poor form in Test cricket lately?  

I feel the schedule is not ideal in terms of preparation for England. You have the County Championship at the start of the year where the wickets are green and wet, the weather is not great. You get the same scenario in the backend of the year. So, there’s a discontinuity in the schedule which needs to be looked at. (ECB needs) to allow England players to play red-ball cricket on regular basis which will help them in becoming a better side. So, I think it boils down to schedule and players wanting to play Test cricket and not just white-ball cricket.

Pitches in county cricket have come under immense criticism. You played the tournament till 2017. What do think can be to improve the pitches?

I believe the onus is on the groundsmen and the county teams to solve the wickets out. Yes, you are playing with the Dukes ball which seams and swings around but you also want good wickets where the ball also carries. So, if you bowl well, you get edges which carry to slips. At the same time, if you bat well, you get value for runs. So, there should be good cricket wickets and not just green tracks where teams get 150 all-out.

You were the highest wicket-taker for England along with Graeme Swann with 10 wickets in England’s 2010 T20 World Cup title. How did you feel about helping your country in winning the first global title?

It was such an amazing feeling. We stepped into the tournament as underdogs, we eluded our style of cricket and there was no fear of failure. It was exciting as it was the first time England sort of entertained and been such an attacking side. So, it was brilliant to be a part of that team and also to contribute and take wickets. It obviously helps in making the team win. So, to win a global tournament, which doesn’t happens quite happen, and to be a part of history is something I’ll always cherish forever.

What is your opinion about the treatment that England and Australia’s head coaches have received recently?

There are a lot things in papers and things written about this situation. I am sure not all of that is true and it’s not ideal. These things happen in sports. You got to move on, a new coach will come in and it’s just about being good people and treating people with respect.

Who do you think should be the next head coach of the England team?

I feel this should go down to the overseas root. They might have (separate) coaches for Test and white-ball cricket. Someone like Gary Kirsten, Jason Gillespie, Michael Di Venuto, there are many names who can be ideal to take England cricket forward.

How do you rate England’s performance in the T20I Series against West Indies?

It was bit of mixed bag. I think England tried to bring some new players into the team and make them feel comfortable in the environment. They played ok. They didn’t play as well as I thought (they should have). However, West Indies were brilliant. They played some fantastic cricket. If we talk about both sides, West Indies were better overall.

Mickey Arthur recently said that ECB should stop sending England players in IPL to improve their performance in Test. What are you views on it?

There are various opinions around English cricket that might be looked it. However, there are many reasons (behind England’s poor run in Tests). It’s just not down to the players participating in IPL. Indian players do well in Test cricket. So, that’s Mickey Arthur’s opinion. I personally love seeing England players in IPL. It’s a great experience, huge exposure and you are playing in arguably the best tournament in the world in terms of cricket. So, IPL is wonderful and you would want your best England players participating in the tournament.