Panesar, who is now behind the prosaic James Tredwell for England, is the one shadow over notorious fuck-offer Graeme Swann's glorious and deserved rise. Their records bear comparison. After 17 Tests, Swann has 79 wickets at 29.55, with 6 five-fers and one 10 wicket match. Panesar, after the same number of Tests, had 65 wickets at 28.40, with 6 five-fers and one 10 wicket match. Swann had bowled significantly more overs, 779 to 634.4, and Panesar had the marginally superior strike rate, 58.5 to 59.1.
Swann is clearly the more talented cricketer: you only need look at his batting and fielding for the proof. I think he'll score at least one Test hundred, and his batting is evidently and glowingly superior to Stuart Broad's, even if no-one else seems to be able to see it. But he, like Monty, is in the side to bowl, and so Panesar's decline - which began statistically after 19 matches, whereupon his average began to rise - must play slightly on English minds.
Yet Swann has one great advantage. As one former pro told me, 'Swanny has seen everything. England are not going to throw him the ball in a situation he's never encountered in first class cricket. Doesn't matter if it's taking the new ball, blocking up an end, bowling to a big-name batsman who wants to take his head off, he's seen it before. He knows what to do.'
There's wisdom in that notion. Panesar was half a decade younger than Swann when he was first playing for England. Swann's next 17 Tests may be tougher but he'll probably cope better. Equally, Panesar can't be written off. He just needs to learn what to do.