23 May 2007

Ryan Sidebottom in England squad

Well apart from his name and his mullet, there isn't too much wrong with Ryan Sidebottom. Since his move to Notts he's been a consistent performer and such is the dearth of accurate seamers in England right now, it's a good selection. Add to that the fact that he's a left-armer and could offer England a bit of variation and it is easy to see the selectors' thought processes.

I hadn't seen his selection coming, expecting that it might be Graham Onions to get the call up, but it's one that should be applauded. The only concern that I have is that the selection clearly comes from Sidebottom's good County form over the last 3 years, and that is both a good and a bad thing. Moores seems closer to the Counties than Fletcher was so he'll know who is considered to be pushing for a call up, but equally doing well in County cricket isn't, unfortunately and though it should be, any guide as to how a player will do in international cricket any more. That is a failing of the County system and of course Moores and the others in the England set up have to work with what they've got.

At 29 Sidebottom is being selected because he has played consistently well one rung down from Test cricket, and one hopes that he's got the maturity to deal with the likes of Chris Gale attacking him without going to pieces, but only time will tell as to whether he can do it at Test level. He can swing the ball both ways which makes him a good substitute for Hoggard, so I'm now rather hopeful that he'll play to offer England both variation and some control - he won't bowl as many wides as Plunkett and Harmison surely. Given Anderson's county form it would certainly be a surprise if he got selected ahead of someone who has so clearly been selected based on his County performances.

The full England squad announced was: Strauss, Cook, Vaughan, Pietersen, Collingwood, Bell, Prior, Flintoff, Plunkett, Harmison, Panesar, Anderson, Sidebottom.

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