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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One comment

  1. Mike

    I think the comment by Warne recently was pretty much spot on. When the interviewer said that Monty had played 30 Tests, Warne corrected him by saying that Monty had played the same Test 30 times.

    I love Monty. Don’t get me wrong but he lacks the variety to become a real force in Test match cricket and, as you say Thomas, his batting and fielding is farcical at times.

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