Wednesday 17 March 2010

Songs of innocence and experience

Monty Panesar hasn't told anyone to fuck off [apparently they don't cover fuck-offing on the ECB media training course] but you might remember him anyway. Lovely bloke, fond of an appeal, had Sachin Tendulkar and Rahul Dravid as two of his first three Test wickets. 

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. 


Wes playforcountrynotforself said...

I really hope Monty will be back, but it'll be hard for him as Swann will take roots in the side. Btw you're not the only thinking that Broad can't bat :P

Nice post, gonna blogroll you,


Wes' last blog post:
••• The Legsmith heads North

Bruce said...

As an Aussie, Swann gets right up my nose and I think there can be no finer compliment of an English player.

I can't remember ever seeing him not up for the fight and he has turned more than his fair share of games already. He will probably love the forthcoming Ashes tour.

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Mark said...

Still beggars belief that Panesar managed to get into the England set up without being able to field, let alone bat.

The Old Batsman said...

Cheers Wes, have blogrolled you too.

Mark, are you sure you're not Duncan Fletcher?

Patricia said...

Another interesting post. I like the way you can see the truth in a way that most of us can't. That is, until we see what you have written.

Will said...

Swann does offer a lot more to England with the bat and in the field - and is a much more of a 'thinking cricketer' in that he is able to vary his pace / line / length whereas Monty is happy to bowl the same ball over and over.

Monty's decline was more due to batsman figuring out what he was about than any loss in ability, but not picking up as many wickets meant that any confidence Monty had went. Confidence is clearly something Swann does not struggle with, and will be able to ask questions of any batsmen in any stage of the match.

Sadly for Monty he has now dropped below Tredwell (and probably Rashid) in the spinning pecking order, which probably means he has played his last for England.

Top stuff yet again OB - have blogrolled you!


Dean @ Cricket Betting Blog said...

Another vote for Broad's batting not being as good as we're continually told it is.

Might get slaughtered for writing this but I don't think his bowling has improved that much over the last 12 months either.

If you take the Oval out of the equation his recent record is nothing special, but he is still a work in progress.

Think a lot of that could be down to team tactics as well though, who knows how he is asked to bowl by management from match to match, it would appear to vary.

With regard to Swann and Monty, I just think Swanny is a far bigger character with far more fight and cunning to his bowling, he is not going to be intimidated by anyone in Test cricket and it shows.

Opposition batsmen know he will fight them for their wicket, he is not happy to just turn his arm over and wait for a mistake (like some English bowlers of late), he improvises.

Maybe this is because of his character, he has the confidence and self belief to try different things that Monty wouldn't do.

He also would have a large enough personality to impose his tactics on his captain to back him in his bowling, at times Monty couldn't even set his own field.

Could you see Swann allowing Strauss to set his field? I can't.

He also looks a leader of men, maybe even a future England captain. Although his face probably wouldn't fit with the heirachy, he dosen't strike me as one of the 'blazer fits' boys.