Chris Waters on Cricket: ‘Rolls Royce’ Sidebottom can drive Yorkshire back to the top

SO Ryan Sidebottom returns from an injury lay-off and Yorkshire produce arguably their best County Championship performance of the season.

Yorkshire's Ryan Sidebottom.



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The connection cannot be easily ignored.

Sidebottom was not solely responsible for Yorkshire’s innings win against Notts at Headingley; far from it.

There were a cluster of significant contributions.

Jack Brooks took four wickets in the first innings as Notts were dismissed for 224, Andrew Gale and Jack Leaning scored excellent hundreds and added 255 for the fourth wicket as Yorkshire replied with 430, and Tim Bresnan had a successful game with bat and ball.

But Sidebottom’s return seemed to inspire Yorkshire as he claimed match figures of 6-80.

The 37-year-old led the way with 4-39 in the second innings as Notts followed up with 198, Yorkshire winning by an innings and eight runs inside three days.

How Yorkshire have missed their ‘Rolls Royce’ since he tore his left calf in the opening match of the season at Worcester.

In fairness, they did not do too badly without him, climbing to third in the league prior to last week’s game and with matches in hand on the sides above them.

But they have missed his talismanic qualities, his experience and nous, and his stabilising influence.

With Sidebottom, there is the guarantee of quality that comes with any Rolls Royce, not to mention a touch of class.

It was Jason Gillespie, the Yorkshire coach, who branded Sidebottom the club’s ‘Rolls Royce’. The term is apt, and the vintage vehicle shows no sign of slowing.

Sidebottom’s second innings performance, when he quickly reduced Notts to 20-2 in the face of a first innings deficit of 206, was the sort we have seen time and again.

He purveys consistently probing left-arm pace bowling, the type that asks questions that produce few answers.

“We were delighted to have Ryan back,” said Gillespie, who had not been able to call on the paceman for 10 long weeks. “He was close to playing in the previous home game against Middlesex, but he pulled up a bit sore in the spot where he tore his calf, so we decided against risking him.

“We gave him another game in the second team at Scarborough, and he got through 29 overs, so we knew he was ready to go.

“What you saw against Notts was a 37-year-old jumping out of his skin, and it was a great lift for the lads to have him back.”

With Sidebottom back to lead the line, and with Brooks continuing to take wickets and with Bresnan and Steve Patterson performing well, Yorkshire have a splendid pace attack of complementary styles.

As Notts’ coach Mick Newell said after his side’s heavy defeat in Leeds: “As far as I’m concerned, Yorkshire, Warwickshire and Durham are the three best teams in county cricket and have been for a couple of years now.

“The reason they are the best teams is because they’ve got the best seam bowlers, and it’s always a challenge when you play them.”

Sidebottom – who once played under Newell by the banks of the Trent – remains one of the best in the business.

His return also comes at a key time in the season as Yorkshire strive to step up their title defence.