Chris Waters: Ryan Sidebottom’s ‘farewell tour’ anything but an exercise in going through motions

Steve Patterson is congratulated for taking the wicket of Andrew Hildreth on day two. Picture: John Heald
Steve Patterson is congratulated for taking the wicket of Andrew Hildreth on day two. Picture: John Heald
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THE milestones keep coming for Ryan Sidebottom.

On Saturday, the left-arm pace bowler captured his 750th first-class wicket, trapping Jamie Overton lbw.

Got him: Ryan Sidebottom traps Jamie Overton leg before
Picture: John Heald

Got him: Ryan Sidebottom traps Jamie Overton leg before Picture: John Heald

It completed his first five-wicket haul of the season, and the 31st of his distinguished career.

In his final year as a professional cricketer, it was yet another proud landmark for the 39-year-old.

Sidebottom may be calling it a day at the end of the season, but he looks good enough to continue for several more years.

His creaking joints might have something to say about that, of course, and he is right to bow out when still at the top.

This is a man determined to go out on a high, determined to end his career with another Championship, and whose team-mates are just as determined to send him on his way with another medal.

Chris Waters

But Yorkshire will soon have to face the unpalatable question: just how do you replace someone like Sidebottom? The answer, of course, is that you cannot, for such cricketers come along with the frequency of comets.

As proved by his performance in the south-west, Sidebottom’s farewell tour, so to speak, is anything but an exercise in going through the motions.

This is a man determined to go out on a high, determined to end his career with another Championship, and whose team-mates are just as determined to send him on his way with another medal.

Sidebottom has already won five Championships (three with Yorkshire, two with Notts), to go with the World T20 and a one-day trophy in his first spell at Yorkshire.

He certainly needs no extra motivation in the coming months. As Somerset scored 224 on Saturday in reply to Yorkshire’s 202, there were times when it seemed as though Sidebottom was a one-man band for the visitors in Taunton.

He had taken the first three wickets on the first evening, removing Dean Elgar, Tom Abell and Marcus Trescothick as the hosts stumbled to 18-3.

He also claimed the wicket of Lewis Gregory lbw to go with that of Overton on Saturday, finishing with 5-56 from 17 overs with two maidens.

It would have been even better for the former England man had Adam Lyth not dropped a chance when Steven Davies edged to second slip, which would have left Somerset 58-5 and might even have prevented a first innings lead for the home team.

As it was, Sidebottom’s latest milestone was not long in coming, and he led the attack in expert style.

Sidebottom, who famously captured his 700th first-class wicket against Middlesex at Lord’s in 2015, when he opened the match with a triple-wicket maiden, has taken more than 1,000 wickets in all forms of the game.

How he would love to finish his career with 800 first-class wickets; although with only a maximum of eight more Championship appearances available to him, that may prove out of reach.

In the final analysis, however, figures are only figures and statistics just an indication of a player’s value and contribution.

Sidebottom’s value and contribution goes beyond mere numbers; as every Yorkshire cricket lover knows, it has been of immeasurable worth to the county over the years, and his retirement is bound to leave a big hole.