Monty: Magic or Mediocre?

After what was a relatively inconsistent summer for Monty Panesar, the news that he has moved towards the top ten of the ICC Test Match bowling ratings will be very pleasing for the Sikh of Tweak. The England spinner is ranked number eleven in the world and sits five places below Ryan Sidebottom and six places ahead of Andrew Flintoff.

This is, of course, a sign that Panesar is moving in the right direction as a bowler. He has often taken important wickets for England and has the potential to be a match winner for his country on a number of occasions before his career is over. The most significant factor as far as Panesar is concerned though is that there should still be a lot more to come from him.

Panesar hasn’t quite hit the heights that many people would have expected him to after making his international debut in March 2006. Yes, there have been some excellent performances – 6 for 126 in New Zealand during the winter for example. However, this was sandwiched in between a poor time against India and Sri Lanka and most recently against South Africa this summer.

Panesar had a frustrating time of it against Graeme Smith’s men as he took 13 wickets in the four match test series at an average of 31.69. With his overall test average being 31.91 – this series was rather typical of Panesar’s England career to date. It has been good at times, but these times haven’t been often enough. The latest climb in the rankings is a good sign, but it mustn’t be forgotten that he has been as high as 6th in the world at one stage. I suppose this highlights that he can be a lot, lot better than he has shown in recent months.

So, what is the problem with him? With the ability he possesses, why can’t he perform consistently enough to become a world-class spinner? Well, unsurprisingly, Shane Warne has had his say. The former Australian leg-spinner says that Panesar must ‘take more risks’ in order to take wickets. By this, Warne means that he should show more variety by ‘bowling higher and wider’.

Should Panesar take on Warne’s advice, there is every chance he will concede more runs, but I’d place a cricket bet on him taking more wickets. Panesar shouldn’t take on the Ashley ‘tie up an end’ Giles role. He is a born wicket-taker and should bowl in a style to reflect this. Everyone knows that the cricket odds are far more likely to favour England being a successful team if they have a dangerous spinner in their ranks. Panesar is that spinner and it is high time that he starts to have a more significant impact on proceedings.

My biggest concern with him is that I still don’t believe he feels at all comfortable as an England cricketer. Even after a couple of years as an England player I don’t think he feels that he deserves to be there. Perhaps this is because of his inability to bat or field. However, he should believe in his right to perform on cricket’s world stage. Should he not, there is a danger that he will be the ‘nearly man’ of English cricket and this would be a crying shame given his ability with a cricket ball.

Thomas Rooney - Freelance Sports Journalist

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Even Babies Hate The Aussies

Babies everywhere are laughing at Australia as they get battered by India in the 2nd Test. It’s true. I’ve seen it with my own eyes.

Just this very morning, as I was walking up my local high street, I passed a TV shop which was showing the cricket. India were giving Australia a fearful hammering and – I swear this is true – a young mum walked past with her baby in a push chair. The baby, seeing Ponting getting bowled by Ishant Sharma, started laughing hysterically and pointing it’s chubby little pink digits at the TV screen.

I’m sure I heard it gurgle “that’ll teach the arrogant bastards..hehehe” although I might have been mistaken.

Aussie cricket blogger Miss Field earlier gave England fans permission to laugh at her team. It seems that even small children are taking her up on the kind offer.

The ex-convicts need to bat out the entire day tomorrow to avoid a heavy defeat. I can’t see them doing that and, it would appear, nor can the toddlers of Great Britain. Huzzah!

Photo credit: Greyman

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Done a Poo – Shoaib Akhtar

It’s all quiet on the cricket front so it must be time to dust down an old favourite. Yes, folks. It’s the Done a Poo series. Huzzah!

The latest member of the Poo Hall of Fame is the Rawalpindi Express himself, Shoaib Akhtar. You know, the chap that twatted his team mate with a bat, slapped his coach, got banned, un-banned and then banned again…and again…and again…The cheeky little blighter.

Still, this honour should cheer him up a bit, eh?

Other members of the Poo Hall of Fame: Andrew Flintoff, Monty Panesar

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Kevin Pietersen Reverse Slog Sweeps Murali For Six

The featured cricket video for the last few weeks has been this fantastic reverse slog sweep switch hitty type thingummy by Kevin Pietersen. It’s a pretty impressive shot but made even more so by the fact that the bowler is none other than Muttiah Muralitharan. You know, that chap who chucks the ball has taken more Test wickets than anyone else.

This audacious shot by KP was from the 2nd Test at Edgbaston in 2006. Enjoy.

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Stanford Twenty20 Cancelled

A High Court ruling today suggests that the proposed multi million Twenty20 cricket match between the Stanford All Stars (i.e. the West Indies) and England is likely to be cancelled due to legal issues regarding the West Indies Cricket Board sponsorship deal with Digicel.

For the full info on the court ruling have a read of the BBC article and the one on CricInfo but essentially Digicel, the sponsors of the West Indies cricket team, have got their panties in a bunch and are unhappy that they’re going to receive little or no money from the $20 million head to head.

I’m not going to go into the rights or wrongs of the mini tournament Allen Stanford has organised. Well, not in this article, anyway, but I do have to ask the question on why this is an ICC recognised match in the first place. Let’s face it, folks, it’s nothing more than a glorified beer match. It’s not an international cricket fixture, for Gods sake.

I had no intention of writing about this whole sordid affair but todays news had me reaching…for the keyboard. Everything about this whole, sorry episode has me questioning the future of the beautiful game.

Oh bollocks. I’ve got one in my bonnet now so…

I find it obscene that any of the players, whether they be West Indians Stanford All Stars or England players are going to become dollar millionaires for playing a single game of cricket. It’s not even a proper fucking game of cricket. It says something for the tournament when the warm up game for the “main event” is a legends beach cricket match.

Now I’m sure that Allen Stanford has the best interest of the game at heart and he’s probably bemused by all this but come on. Enough is enough. How much more shit can we take about “player burnout” and then watch another meaningless cricket tournament on our pay-per-view subscriptions? IPL anyone? ICC Champions Trophy?

I’ve got a major beef with the ECB for agreeing to this match. It spells bad news for the future of cricket and I can’t understand why they took this on especially since they’re cash rich with the renewed Sky contract. I used to advertise Sky on this site but I’ve stopped now because, in some ways, I see Sky as being part of the problem.

Ball bags.

It’s late at night. I’ve had a few beers. I may not be as coherent as I should be and I’m sure that this post will pose as many questions as answers but, in essence, I’ll be more than happy if this dreadful whoring of cricket never happens.

Image credit: Duchessa

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