A Slow Game and a Revelation

I'd spent the last few days thinking that I really ought to write something about the Hamilton Test this morning, but not really knowing what, other than that it's been, by modern standards, a very slow game, partly due to the pitch and partly because of England's first innings caution.

Having listened to some of the 'action' overnight before it got interesting, I was shocked but pleased to wake up this morning to find that Ryan Sidebottom had taken a hat-trick and that England had worked their way back into some sort of contention thanks to him, Panesar and some excellent catching from Cook (again), Strauss and Hoggard. I find it hard to believe that they'll be able to get very near the total they'll need on the last day, but at least they've got a chance.

With most of England's other seamers - especially Harmison - suffering, once again, through lack of preparation, Sidebottom confirmed what a revelation he's been since he returned to the side last spring. Good fitness, a consistent line, plenty of ticker and both conventional and reverse swing as and when required.

A few years ago I raised my eyebrows when I saw that Mark Ramprakash had named Sidebottom as one of his most difficult bowling opponents. Ryan Sidebottom? That bloke with all the hair who'd played one Test years ago?

Now I can see what Ramps meant.

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