A left-armed pace bowler is a great asset in T20 competition. In fact, unless you come across an opposition with an obvious weakness against a certain type of bowling (see England looking woeful vs. spin), variety is often a fielding captain’s best asset – which is why average Test bowlers like Wayne Parnell and Mitchell Starc are actually quite highly rated in the shortest format. If only, I can hear you thinking aloud, if ONLY, England had an answer to Mitchell Starc.
Enter Ryan Sidebottom: cricket’s worst haircut has propelled his native Yorkshire through to the Champions League T20 proper, his 3-13 from four overs restricting Trinidad & Tobago to an overcome-able total. The CLT20 is the most lucrative tournament open to County sides at the moment, and with a winning run it would benefit any county. Ok, so the tournament doesn’t quite make proper sense yet, with players and even coaches qualifying to play with two different sides, but with a barnet like Sidebottom’s, frankly, who cares!?
In Tests, Sidebottom averages less than 30 with the ball (superior figures to both Broad, Bresnan and Anderson), and he continues to bowl successfully with Yorkshire, still opening with the new cherry even though he is into his mid 30s. Sidebottom does actually have a decent international T20 pedigree; only in 2010 he was consistently picked above James Anderson for the World T20 Cup which England won. He took the key wickets of Brad Haddin and Shane Watson in the final, and played every game.
So yeah, along with Robert Key, Sidebottom is my shout for the England Test Squad. As well as the shorter formats. For the rest of his life.
My team for India: Key, Cook, Trott, Bell, KP, Ealham, Prior, Broad, Croft, Sidebottom, Anderson