Ryan Sidebottom: I've had to pinch myself, says Warwickshire fast bowler
Warwickshire's Australian fast bowler Ryan Sidebottom says helping his side to an innings victory with his first 10-wicket County Championship match haul is something that he will cherish.
Sidebottom, 28, the late season plus from an otherwise dismal 2017, was the Bears' star performer against Northants at Wantage Road, taking 10-96.
But he only played as Keith Barker and Olly Stone were both out injured.
"It was unfortunate Barks and Stoney going down with hamstrings," he said.
"I was just grateful to get my chance and I'm pretty pleased with how it worked out. I've had to pinch myself.
"It was great to win in three days and to win by an innings is fantastic. It's something I'll cherish for a long time."
It also kept up Sidebottom's growing knack of performing heroic deeds first time out.
On his Warwickshire debut against Middlesex last August, the previously unsung man from Victoria came in from the cold, took 4-29, and helped earn the Bears' only Championship win of the season.
Bears' strength in depth
It says everything about the Bears' fight for first-team places this summer that Sidebottom should start this season on the sidelines.
For relegated Warwickshire's opening Championship game back in Division Two against Sussex at Edgbaston, Stone, Barker and Chris Wright got the three fast-bowling spots, with Will Rhodes as back-up.
But for the trip to Northampton, without Stone and Barker, the Bears brought in not only Sidebottom but also Henry Brookes and all-rounder Matthew Lamb.
Apart from Sidebottom's career-best first-innings 6-35 and 4-61 in the second, Brookes took three wickets in only his second Championship match as the Bears, who lost five times last season by an innings, found themselves on the right end of such a big win.
Brookes also hit 70 in a key 117-run ninth-wicket stand with Tim Ambrose, while Lamb followed Sam Hain's 85 with a promising 44.
"We took as many positives from last season as we could," said Sidebottom. "The guys have just got on with it and worked extremely hard.
"It's exciting not just for myself but for the heap of young guys we have coming through.
"I was disappointed to do all the work through pre-season and to miss out at the last moment in the first game, but I got the nod towards the end of the last game and I'm glad I put my hand up. It was just my turn.
"Last season I got a taste of county cricket, I've got the contract extension for next season so it takes that off my mind and let's me crack on with helping get this club back in Division One."
Warwickshire's three-day win against Northants earned them an 11-day break before their next game at home to Derbyshire - and it looks at this stage as if Stone and Barker might be fit, to add to their selection issues.