What more does Monty have to do…

…to please Fletch ?

After putting in the best display by an English orthodox finger spinner in a test match for many a year Duncan Fletcher is still making noises that Monty Panesar isn’t his first choice because Ashley Giles can bat a bit.

Monty bowled very, very well, there’s no doubt about it. There was a lot of pressure on him as an individual, but the pitch really suited a spinner.

I still have slight reservations about his batting and his fielding, which he needs to keep working hard at, but he’s an outstanding bowler who’s doing a job for us because there’s no one else to fulfil that role.

We’ll decide who the No 1 spinner is when time comes and Ashley Giles is fit again. Let’s first have a look at Monty when he bowls on other pitches, then we’ll make a decision when Giles is ready again. - Duncan Fletcher (England coach)

Great words from the coach there to give Monty a boost of confidence, basically you’re the only thing we’ve got at the moment and you did all right but it was the pitch that did it really.

Fletcher’s thoughts were made clear when Dalrymple was picked for the last squad, thankfully Strauss felt the confidence from being given the captaincy for the rest of the summer to say who he wanted and not go with the coach, and Monty proved him right.

Eight for 93 is a cracking return against a team like Pakistan, who are not too shabby players of spin, no matter what the wicket was like, after all the wicket wasn’t that good when Laker took 19 for 90 against Australia exactly 50 years earlier but the way Fletcher talked you’d think Monty had put in a performance like Tony Lock had those years ago.

So here’s Monty got a number of test wickest against the three best sub-continent teams – India, Pakistan & Sri Lanka – includes top class players amongst his victims like Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, RaInzamam-ul-Haq, Mohammad Yousuf and Younis Khan at an average 10 runs less than Giles but Fletch thinks Giles’ ten run better batting average is a better prospect…great logic there.

Giles is really a one trick pony, and yes he’s been good at it and helped us win the Ashes with it, but it’s bowl over the wicket hope to catch some of the bowler’s run up rough and bore the batter into a mistake, where Monty is coming round the wicket and bowling the ball with flight, swerve and dip and spinning it to 1st slip.

The first innings dismissal of Shahid Afridi said it all about the difference between the two, as Afridi was going for it Giles (and most English spinners it has to be said) would have bowled flatter and faster, scared of going for a few. Not Monty he gave it more air, looped it up tempting Afridi – go on have a go at this one if you think you’re good enough – and got his man, cost him a whole 12 or 14 runs. Any bowler out there would snap your hand off if offered a test wicket for 12 runs.

As for the batting, well he hasn’t done that bad, maybe if he was promoted after he scored 26 instead of languishing at number 11 it would give him the confidence to be a better bat.

Thankfully it only seems to be Fletcher that has doubts about Panesar, the fans love him because they see the effort he puts in and what it means to him to wear the 3 lions, take wickets and win matches for his country.

It looks like Steve Harmison took on board the criticism that was coming at him from all quarters over his no-show with the ball over the last couple of years, with his display at Old Trafford.

First 10 wicket haul was what was needed with Freddie out and the 3rd seamer’s not looking up to the task. Don’t know if he was back to his best, was a bit wayward in the 2nd innings but the first was what you want to see from Harmison.

Not just pitching short but getting some lift from a good length causing the batsmen all kinds of problems, not knowing if to go forward or back to deliveries and getting a few hits into their bodies. Like the Aussies last year they don’t like it up ‘em. Still no slow ball though.

Now if he could just keep that consistency and not sit back and try and live off that 10 for in the rest of the series.

Strauss’ captaincy was far better in this test, more pro-active though the declaration could have come a bit sooner, getting the job for the remainder has to have helped. Might also ahve helped his batting, a bit more concentrated rather than trying to compete scoring wise with the guy at the other end.

And just as Jones has managed to get his ‘keeping up to the level required, 5 catches and a stumping with a broken finger in the last test and no real drop chances of late he gets dropped himself for Read, 3 hundreds of no real note and looking like a total rabbit is forgotten by Fletch eh ?

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4 Comments

  1. The Jones dropping is bizarre timing – Fletcher instantly insisting it was for form, not fitness, too. Stepping up the mind games, it seems (Panesar too) – will be good to finally see Read given a go, but didn’t quite expect it to be due to his batting form impressing over Jones’s rather than (recently much-improved) keeping.

    Panesar’s quickfire 26 showed he could at least bat a bit, rather than remain the eternal ferret his reputation had suggested. Then again, we were ‘spoiled’ a little with Harmison so long at 11.

    The win was a great boost, though, all things considered. Now it’ll be nice to keep on doing so, this time with more than just two batsmen and two bowlers making the key contributions…

  2. Sod Giles, keep Panesar in the team. At last, a decent English spinner! And such great entertainment. At least he’s a better batsman and fielder than Phil “The Cat” Tuffnel ever was.

    Nice to see Harmison doing well too. Now, we need Freddie and Simon Jones back and we’re sorted for the Aussies. No need for Vaughn with the form of Alistair Cook.

  3. Can still see Read cowering as Chris Cairns slow ball came down. If they were going on county batting stats alone then Foster has a better average this year.

    I would prefer Vaughan to be there, opening instead of Trescothick who is a bit of a crybaby tourist, and he is a better captain than Strauss.

    If only they hadn’t pissed about with his knee and sent him to that guy in Colorado straight away.

  4. True, Vaughn is a much better captain although his batting form over the last couple of years has been a bit average. I’m not sure he’d get in the team at the moment if he wasn’t captain.

    It’s true though, he’d make a much better opener than Trescothic. He was at his best opening the innings and I wish he were back in there doing that now. Let’s hope his knee is fixed in time

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