RYAN SIDEBOTTOM hopes to crown his benefit year by helping England retain the Ashes.
The 32-year-old from Huddersfield has flown out with Andy Flower’s squad for the World Twenty/20 tournament in the Caribbean.
He is confident England can do well in the big-hit format before a busy summer at home and then the Ashes tour come November.
After having to return from the last winter tour to Bangladesh because of injury, the Nottinghamshire and former Yorkshire left-arm seamer is just aiming to re-establish himself on the international scene and, hopefully, earn a coveted Ashes slot Down Under.
“I’ve got a five-month old daughter (Indiana), a really busy schedule of cricket with Notts and England and a benefit year all at once – so it’s all systems go,” said Sidebottom, who hopes to make the most of the competition proper next week.
“It’s a fantastic time to look forward to and, if I can make the Ashes tour next winter then that really would be the icing on the cake.
“I’m not going to say it would be a nice swansong because, at 32, I’m hoping I’ve still got a few good years left in me, but it would be great to go out there and take on the Aussies and it would be amazing to help us do well against them as holders.”
Born and raised here and now married to Kate, Sidebottom has become one of the country’s most popular cricketers since bursting back on the international circuit only three years ago.
A County Championship winner with Yorkshire in 2001 and Nottinghamshire in 2005, he starred on the New Zealand tour of 2007-08 and has been pretty much a fixture every since – when injuries have allowed.
“It was very disappointing to have to come back from Bangladesh through injury, especially as I had sat down with the coach (Flower) and was told I’d be starting in all forms of the game,” explained Sidebottom, one of only 37 Test players to take a hat trick (when he was named Man of the Series in New Zealand).
“That would have been a great comeback for me and a chance to cement a regular place in the side once again, but it wasn’t meant to be.”
Sidebottom is hoping to turn his arm over when England play Bangladesh and South Africa in warm-up games tomorrow and Thursday in Barbados, ready for next Monday’s first tournament clash against West Indies in Guyana.
“I played in the Twenty20 World Cup last year at home and the atmospheres at the games were amazing,” he said.
“I’m sure it will be the same in West Indies and I don’t see any reason why we can’t do well.
“We have just beaten Pakistan out in Dubai and they were the champions last time, and a lot of our lads will have benefited from playing in the IPL, which is great.
“The batsmen will be used to hitting a few fours and sixes and it should be a real Caribbean carnival atmosphere in which we have to believe we can do well.”
Sidebottom doesn’t know when he’ll next be able to put up his feet – details of his benefit year can be found at www.ryansidebottom.com – but he is in no mood to complain.
“I am very fortunate to be involved as I am now and to have the career that I’ve got,” he said.