With no other option left but to select the embarrassed Monty Panesar as the second best bet in the spin department for the upcoming Ashes tour Down Under, Sudatta Mukherjee argues why the left-armer deserved to be picked rather than merely being selected as a back-up.
With no prime spinner except Graeme Swann in the England squad and after Simon Kerrigan’s miserable debut at The Oval, it was on the cards that Panesar would get the call. One would have expected a James Tredwell ahead of Panesar, but the left-arm spinner seems to have got the nod because of popular belief that he is a changed player now.
His attitude since the Sri Lankan series two years back has been noted by the selectors. After the recent incident of urinating on bouncers, captain Cook had clearly said that he let the England shirt down.
But then things changed. He re-established himself unambiguously and quickly. Essex’s head coach Paul Grayson was quoted by Daily Telegraph, “He has fitted in very well.” It is also being said that he has been seen working closely with the England and Wales Cricket Board’s (ECB) head spin bowling coach Peter Such.
England’s aim to win a fourth straight Ashes series would require them to have a quality back-up spinner in their ranks. And there is no one better than Panesar.
Tredwell’s 13 Championship wickets so far looked good for him to get the nod. However, he has played only one Test and that too was against minnows Bangladesh. Kerrigan’s debut has been well documented and he looks far from being ready for a big Test series like the Ashes.
Panesar was a bright spot for England in the 2006-07 Ashes. Duncan Fletcher’s support for Ashley Giles cost England too much in that series, but Panesar made sure that England did enough to fight back. He made the most out of his selection in the third Test at the WACA in Perth by picking up five wickets in the first innings. He picked a further three wickets in the second innings. Even though England suffered a whitewash, Panesar returned home with his head held high.
One shouldn’t forget that Panesar has spent a part of the winter at the Darren Lehmann Academy in Adelaide and his time spent there could help the England team with some good inputs on how the Australian coach might manage his players.
(Sudatta Mukherjeeis a reporter with CricketCountry. Other than writing on cricket, she spends penning random thoughts on her blog and produces weekly posts on new food joints at Whopping Weekends. She played Table Tennis for University of Calcutta. When she is not writing, you will catch her at a movie theatre or watching some English serial on her laptop. Her Twitter id is @blackrosegal)