IND vs ENG: Sidebottom all praise for India despite spin controversy

Former fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom, who will wear the England Legends colours in the Unacademy Road Safety World Series in Raipur later this week, has been tracking the Test series.

Former England quick Ryan Sidebottom shares a light moment with James Anderson during his playing days.   -  FILE PHOTO/ REUTERS

The cricketing world remembers Ryan Sidebottom for his unruly mop of curly, ginger hair. The former England quick - who featured in 22 Tests, 25 ODIs and 18 T20Is for the national team - was part of the Champions Trophy-winning side in 2010 and even after retirement, he continues to be associated with the game.

Later this week, the 43-year-old will don the England Legends colours when the Unacademy Road Safety World Series begins in Raipur. While he is excited to be back on the field and take on some of the biggest names of world cricket, Sidebottom has also been tracking the ongoing Test series between India and England.

“I have really enjoyed the Test matches. There has been a bit of (nitpicking) regarding the pitches. I love a contest where the ball swings and seams around and the best batsmen will be challenged,” Sidebottom told Sportstar. “The three Test matches have been fantastic and the last Test gave India an opportunity to win 2-1. England won the toss, but did not quite capitalise and India’s fantastic spin bowlers took the initiative. I think the Test match has been outstanding and it’s great to see crowds back, with two very good teams going head to head,” the former England pacer stated.

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The pitch in Ahmedabad has been the talking point and ahead of the fourth Test, which begins on Thursday, Sidebottom believes that it is important to accept the fact that India has fared well in home conditions. “The wicket is what it is. You look at home advantage and India has realised that it has got a strong batting line-up, full of talents. It has also got some very good spin bowlers. Like when we play in England, you get a seaming and swing pitch and that kind of gives you a home advantage. But you still got to play well and England hasn’t batted well. India raised its game and pounced upon that home advantage. They played very, very well,” Sidebottom said.

Ever since the pink ball Test in Motera got over within two days, the cricketing fraternity has been divided over the quality of the wickets. On a turning track, England captain Joe Root claimed a five-for in the first innings.

“It’s something kind of unheard of, isn’t it? Me playing all my career, and you are wanting to get a Test match fifer and Joe Root bowls a few overs and spins gets a side five-for, which is ridiculous. But well done to him. He is an underrated spinner and he should probably bowl more cause he is a genuine wicket-taking bowler,” the former pace ace said.

Belonging to a generation, when England’s pace attack was spearheaded by Darren Gough, Dominic Cork and Andy Caddick, Sidebottom is excited to see the current England pace attack. However, he feels that Jofra Archer is still finding his feet in the longer format.

“England’s team is outstanding. After the Test matches, I am sure they are eagerly waiting for the T20 series. Talent is there on both sides. Archer is still finding his feet little bit in terms of Test cricket and what do England use him for – is he that impact bowler or is he a genuine wicket-taker? He is so talented and he has shown that on Indian soil many times during the IPL,” he said.

Having played at a time when Indian cricket was dominated by spinners, Sidebottom is excited with the emergence of genuine pacers like Jasprit Bumrah.

READ| England captain Joe Root: Fourth Test pitch looks similar to last one

“In terms of India, they have got all bases covered now. With that massive variation attack, you could have argued that India didn’t really produce that many seam bowlers in the past, but with the IPL now and the brand of cricket and the opportunity India have got a big battery of seam bowlers and that bodes well because there is a competition for places. Players are desperate to represent their country at the international level. India, and England too, have got a good battery of seam bowlers and it's great for Test cricket."

A defeat in the third Test led to England’s ouster from the World Test Championship. And that once again brought the pitch to the fore. So, going forward what should be done to avoid unnecessary controversies?

“Sometimes it is nice to have a controversy because it’s the talking point. In terms of Test Championship, it’s great for cricket because you want a healthy competition, you want Test nations to become stronger they possibly can and you want to see exciting Test match cricket. You don’t want to see 600 or 500, you want to see a brand of cricket, which will be exciting for fans. You want to see fast bowlers bowling bouncers - you want an all-round package, which you see in Test cricket…”

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