Former England, Yorkshire, and Nottinghamshire seamer Ryan Sidebottom was our guest in our latest ‘Barmy Army Meets’ Q&A and certainly had some fantastic stories to tell.
If you missed part one, which includes some hilarious tales from early on in his career, make sure you check it out here.
In part two, Sidebottom touches on a range of topics, including the best players he’s played with and against, the best pranks he’s seen, and how he looked after his mental health…
What’re your plans for the future?
“I don’t know. We’ll have to wait and see.
“This year, unfortunately pre-Covid, I was going to be doing a bit of commentary and hosting for events companies during the cricket season.
“I’ve always thought of doing little bits but you never kinda know what the future holds. When I retired in 2017, I was called by Alex Stewart to coach Surrey and then Dancing on Ice came around, so you kind of don’t know. I’m just enjoying and doing bits here and there.
“I would like to, obviously, mentor or be a bowling coach further down the line. I want to stay in the game. It’s given me so much pleasure over the years, I want to like put something back.”
Did you enjoy coaching with Surrey?
“Yeah, it was great. It was weird because you retired one season and then all of a sudden you’re coaching in the next season.
“It was a bit odd to start with, you find yourself bowling every delivery and you’re on the other side of the rope. You’re analysing and looking on the computer. I just tried to be very chill with the lads, you know, they’re all professionals and I just tried to mentor them and if they needed me then I was there.
“I was horrendous with the mitt. I used to think Dizzy at Yorkshire was was pretty pissed every morning because he used to miss so many balls and now I understand why, it’s a horrendous job. I don’t want to do it ever again. It’s a nightmare.”
Which current England player would you most like to play with?
“I mean I like Jofra Archer. He’s got everything that you want in a fast bowler. Kind of like Steve Harmison – he’s got pace, he can swing the ball, seam the ball. He looks like he enjoys his cricket and he can bat as well.
“They’re such a great side though, aren’t they? There are probably 30 players in this current England set up that you want to play alongside. They’re all brilliant. They’re absolute athletes – they can all bat, bowl and field, which is why England are so strong now.”
Some of your former teammates have said you used to have lots of grooming products, is that true?
“I used to carry a lot because it was ridiculous. Honestly, when I look back at the pictures I looked horrendous.
“No wonder I got abused on the boundary, like ‘Shirley Temple’ and ‘Roger Daltrey’ and ‘get your hair cut’. Honestly, I can understand why now.”
Best player you’ve played with and best you’ve played against?
“The best player I’ve played with would have to be Darren Lehman. I can’t tell you how good he was.
“A few times he’d get out for a low score in the first innings and he’d always come off the field, this little rotund Australian, who never trained and just loved playing and batting. He’d come off and sit in the dressing room in his y-fronts, eat a Margherita pizza, have a pint of coke, be there with his fag in his gob and say ‘don’t worry lads I’ll get a hundred in the second innings’ – and you know what, I can’t recall him not. He was that good.
“He broke all the records for Yorkshire. He was absolutely immense, as a player and as a bloke.
“The best player I’ve played against would have to be Tendulkar or Ponting, those type of players that come with hero status. It is always nice the memories that you make pitting your wits against those players, trying to get them out.”
We’re partnered with Opening Up and they’ve asked, during your career how did you look after your mental health?
“I think lots of different things really. Trying to keep busy. My love was rugby league.
“Away from cricket, I tried to do as much as I possibly could. Keep the mind active constantly.
“If I’d had a bad day on the pitch, my drive home was like 20 minutes, so I would have time to myself. I’d probably think of how my days gone, what I could do better, and I’d try and forget about it then.
“I know cricket and sport is the be-all and end-all for some people. You want to win at all costs and you train hard every single day but, for me, it is about having fun and enjoying it. Not getting too carried away. What will be will be.
“If you’ve had a bad day, so what. There are worse things in life. I’m very lucky, I’ve got two kids and a great family. I just tried to look at it on a positive note. Not to get to down about things.”
What’s the difference for a bowler between international level and county level?
“I think it’s more your workload and the scrutiny that you’re under both mentally and physically. Five-day cricket is called Test match cricket for a reason, it tests you at every aspect of the game.
“You’ve got the TV cameras on you, people criticising you, and you’ve got social media now. It’s totally changed and it is really tough.
“So for me, playing Test match cricket is the hardest form of the game. I know now everybody loves T20 but I think you can go out there, have more fun and express yourself. Whereas in Test cricket you’re under the pump constantly for five days.”
If you could pick two players to isolate with, who would they be?
“It would have to be Swanny because he never, ever shuts up. He’d keep you entertained throughout the whole day every day.
“There have been so many characters that I’ve played with. Probably Steve Harmison because everytime we played he’d always bring a massive suitcase of jellies and sweets, he’d always have his Netflix or DvDs – that was probably the most important thing to him, apart from his bowling boots.
“Probably Steve Harmison because he’s a great lad too.”
Who was the best Yorkshire player, either past or present?
“There’s so many and I’ve mentioned Darren Lehman already but for me it’s Goughy. I idolized Goughy growing up not because of what he’d done in Test cricket and his performances but how he was as a bloke.
“People in sport love triers and people that go out there give it 100% and enjoy themselves. He epitomised how cricket and sport should be played. He loved a laugh but he was always very competitive.
“So for me, it’s Darren Gough.”
What’s the best practical joke you’ve played or seen be played?
“To this day Jack the Snipper, I’m sure Rooty and the boys are talking about him, but no one knows who he is.
“He used to snip your socks, your underpants. You’d put your underpants on after a horrendous day in the field and your meat and two veg would be hanging out. Your shoes would be snipped and you couldn’t go home in any of your gear because it would be cut in half.
“No one knows to this day who it is. I think it’s Anthony McGrath.
“In terms of pranks. As you know, I had long hair, loved my products, and always had my toiletries bag with me. Our physio, Craig Smith, hid my toilet bag when I was at Notts.
“I was so mad and when we played at Headingley the following week I put his car on bricks. The problem is we lost in two days. I was at home, sat down, had my tea, and a glass of red, and he’s still at Headingley putting the wheels back on his car.
“Another good one was when Dave Hussey put Mick Newell’s phone number on the free press, saying he had eight pedigree bulldog puppies and he needed a quick sale because he was moving abroad. He must’ve had 1000 calls a day.
“You could hear him in his office saying ‘No I haven’t got any pedigree, you can F off.'”
How important was the captaincy in the T20 World Cup final?
“Huge. I think it all stemmed from the year before. Colly went to the IPL that winter and witnessed how T20 should be played. The ins and outs, the variety of the attack, and how batsmen approach the first six overs – and then he came back with new ideas.
“That changed the dynamic. We went to Dubai first and played England A in a few T20 matches. We played against Kieswetter and Lumb, and they absolutely smashed our bowling attack to all parts. It was something that no one had ever seen before.
“I think Colly and Andy Flower said that’s how we want to play our cricket and then obviously they were selected. We never looked back really. The cricket that we played, in a way I suppose we set the bar for how this England team play. We had all bases covered, great variety, and the top six were so attacking that no bowler had a respite.
“A lot of experience from Colly and he was brilliant. One thing I will say is I’d never been in an England team where we trained and had fun. It was very relaxed but we trained hard. That sort of went into our cricket, we just enjoyed that togetherness and team spirit. We were brilliant that tournament, we never looked like losing.
“Even in the final, going to the ground you could see among the players, we looked like we’d won. I know you don’t say that in sport but I think we knew on that day we would beat Australia because we were just so confident.”