Sidebottom lands player award
Ryan Sidebottom capped a memorable year as an established member of the England side by winning the Vodafone Player of the Year award.
The 30-year-old Nottinghamshire left-arm seamer was presented with the prize at the annual awards dinner at Lord’s after a stunning haul of 53 wickets at 25.24 in 12 Tests since being recalled last summer.
The award caps an amazing 12 months since Sidebottom was plucked out of county cricket by new England coach Peter Moores to replace Matthew Hoggard for the second Test against West Indies at Headingley Carnegie.
Since then, he has developed into a bowler who was expected to be just a temporary replacement into the leading member of England’s attack.
“All the talk when I was called up was that it was going to be just for one game,” admitted Sidebottom, who claimed a stunning 24 wickets in three Tests in New Zealand during the winter.
“They were all going on about the horses for courses thing. I sat down with my Dad and he said just get out there and do your best and don’t look ahead. I suppose at Headingley I just played as if it was going to be my last game.”
First selected in 2001 against Pakistan at Lord’s by former coach Duncan Fletcher and then dropped immediately after a wicketless debut, Sidebottom’s award represents one of the biggest comebacks in English cricket.
He remembers watching England in the opening Test last summer against West Indies on television, little knowing that fate was about to secure his recall and help him establish himself as a bowler now respected on the world stage.
“It’s been a massive change in my fortunes,” he admitted. “This time last year, I was training for Notts and just playing county cricket so it’s been a massive turnaround.
“But it’s one I’m not getting carried away about and I’m relishing the opportunity to play again for England at Lord’s.
“It’s massive to win it (this award), but it’s not just down to me - the other guys who have been playing have made me feel very welcome in the team and it’s just allowed me to do my job.
“The first I heard about it was when we got to Lord’s earlier today and it was on the big screen and one of the lads pointed it out to me.”
Sidebottom’s impact has been such that Sir Richard Hadlee, New Zealand’s chairman of selectors, believes he is the biggest danger to his own side’s hopes of emulating their achievement in 1999 when they secured their last series win on English soil.
Sidebottom said: “It’s a massive compliment coming from such a great bowler, but New Zealand will still be a tough team to beat.
“I think they showed that in New Zealand, it was hard graft for us and to come out 2-1 winners was a massive effort.
“I’ve only played a handful of games and of course I’d like to continue in the same vein, but it’s not going to be easy.
“I’m going to need to be consistent and keep putting the ball in the right areas and if I can get wickets for my team-mates then that will be just as good.”
In addition to Sidebottom’s award, Claire Taylor was named the Vodafone Women’s Player of the Year after playing a key role in England’s Ashes win last year.
There were further special recognition awards for Ashley Giles - now an England selector - and Marcus Trescothick, both of whom retired from international cricket after playing a key role in the memorable 2005 Ashes triumph.