Wed, May 14, 2008 - Page 20 News List

Sidebottom wins England's player of the year award

AP , LONDON

Ryan Sidebottom's journey from county cricket stalwart to international star was confirmed on Monday when he was named England's player of the year.

Even a year ago, the 1.93m Sidebottom was watching England play its opening summer test against the West Indies on television.

But an injury to Matthew Hoggard earned him a recall six years after his only previous test and the 30-year-old Nottinghamshire bowler has gone on to take 53 wickets in 12 matches.

Sidebottom is now his country's leading strike bowler and an integral part of the team set to open its three-test series against New Zealand at Lord's tomorrow.

"This time last year I was just training for Notts and playing regular county cricket," Sidebottom said. "It's a huge turnaround but not one I want to get carried away with.

"It's massive, but it's not just down to me. The other 10 guys who are playing have made me feel very welcome. So it goes out to all the players, really," he said.

Given former coach Duncan Fletcher's penchant for pace, Sidebottom had long looked unlikely to make the England team even after helping Nottinghamshire to the 2005 County Championship.

He was recognized as possibly county cricket's most reliable bowler, but Ashes winners Steve Harmison, Hoggard and Simon Jones were ahead of him and favored by Fletcher.

But Fletcher quit last year and his replacement Peter Moores drafted in Sidebottom for the second test against West Indies.

Sidebottom took four wickets for 42, including the prize of Chris Gayle, and then 4-44 in the second innings to lead England to a record win by an innings and 283 runs.

"All the talk was that it would be just for one game, the `horses for courses' thing," Sidebottom said. "But I sat down with my dad and he said, `just go out there and do your best and don't look too far ahead. Take each game as it comes.'"

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