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Thread: A Different View on Monty Panesar

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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    A Different View on Monty Panesar

    Monty Panesar has been the subject of countless articles in the last few days. No sentient being who has ever watched an England cricket match could possibly fail to have heard the conclusions that Monty has no variations, his bowling isn't improving (if Shane Warne had royalty rights over his "same Test 34 times" remark, he'd have made another million by now) and that he doesn't take enough interest in his field placings.

    Apart from being staggeringly lazy, boring and repetitive journalism, and without in any way trying to suggest that Monty had a good match or has even had that good a year, I'm not sure about these points. And I'm certainly not sure that they should be repeated as gospel truths.

    I think Monty's trouble is that he has no idea whether the powers that be want him to be a strike bowler or a stock bowler. Should he be brought on to take wickets, with the risk of a few balls disappearing? Or is he coming on to tie up an end whilst the fast bowlers rotate in strike mode from the other? In my view, he started off as a strike bowler. He was too raw for anyone to expect him to tie down big name batsmen, but they recognised that he spun the ball miles for a finger-spinner. So they threw the ball to him, and told him to see what he could produce - and he produced some sensational spells of bowling that brought him some of the biggest scalps and best players of spin in the game. But then things happened to change his approach.

    He was dropped in Australia for Ashley Giles, the very definition of an uninspiring, unthreatening bowler. Monty had spent nearly a year bowling in a way that caused sober analysts of the game (to say nothing of the more exciteable ones) to label him the best finger-spinner in the world. Then he was dropped for England's most important series for a long time for a guy who made a career out of holding up an end, and in some ways he has made himself into a bowler of that type.

    One of my abiding memories from watching the car crash of a defeat in Adelaide was the ease with which Giles was milked for four an over on the same pitch that Shane Warne had made look like a minefield. In the same way, Monty was milked by Tendulkar and co on a pitch that actually looked like a minefield. Granted, neither were helped by their inexperienced captains, who set in-out fields rather than forcing the batsmen to take risks by hitting over the top, but the comparison remains relevant. That Test was the last Giles played and if England drop Monty in the West Indies (where they will surely only play one spinner), with Swann in situ and Rashid coming through, it may be the last he plays for some time as well.

    He has also had to play totally different roles in the team depending on whether he was part of a four-man or five-man attack. Specifically, in a four man attack, he was used to tie up an end so that the pace bowlers could rotate through the innings. In a five man attack, he could be thrown the ball and told to toss it up and see if he could make things happen. In the last year, he has been mostly in the hands of Michael Vaughan, a brilliant, brilliant captain, and one of my personal favourite cricketers - but he was in Vaughan's hands at the worst time, when his captaincy was on the wane. Vaughan used Panesar like Giles, and, again, Monty has responded by trying to make himself into what he perceived was wanted. This says a lot about him as a team man, but I would have preferred him to say "sod you, if you want a bowler like that then get Robert Croft out of retirement - I can actually turn the ball".

    I'm not going to make a separate point out of it, because it's well trodden ground, but the same pattern is obvious when you think about Monty and ODIs. In a typical English way, with typical suspicion of unorthodox talent (parallels with Wayne Rooney, anyone?), we have turned an enthusiastic young finger spinner who can turn the ball like a leggie into a typical, dour containing bowler who looks at his economy rate rather than his wickets column to find out how well he has bowled. There aren't many bowlers who can bowl any team in the world out on a good day, and we should celebrate the fact that Monty is one of them rather than complain that he doesn't keep the runs down in the meantime. Hopefully, KP and his attacking instincts will take this approach and take Monty in a different direction.

    At the same time as all of this, Monty was forced to focus on his fielding and batting instead of his bowling - again whilst suffering constantly in comparison with Ashley Giles. Hasn't anyone worked out yet that he will always be a terrible fielder and batsman, regardless of how much work he does (and his work ethic is not in question)? Thinking about his bowling, as we should, he didn't come into the team as a hard bitten county pro who had toiled for summer after summer and had learned all that he was going to learn. What he needed was a mentor, one who believed in his talent and who could nurture that talent into full bloom, his Terry Jenner. He still doesn't have that - in fact, England don't even have a spin bowling coach. Why the hell not? How can the cast of thousands that follows the team around not include a spin bowling coach? Is it therefore any wonder that Monty doesn't understand the metagame that should accompany his bowling, and hasn't developed dangerous variations? Where are the stories of him spending hour after hour with pool balls or oranges, seeing what new things he can do with them, or sitting at the feet of the greats of the game, lapping up their insights? Is he supposed to learn his trade by osmosis? If you'll excuse the flood of rhetorical questions, he has been horribly mismanaged by England.

    If you want an example of this dysfunctionality, Mushtaq Ahmed was due to be appointed as spin bowling coach - why? Mushy was a great bowler and is an admirable man in many, many ways, but Monty is currently our premier spinner, and he is a finger spinner...so why are we appointing a leggie as his coach? Perhaps David Gower should teach Bell to bat left-handed, and Marcus Trescothick should work on Matt Prior's wicketkeeping. England have a terrible record with young spinners recently - Richard Dawson all but gave up spin bowling after being handled abysmally during a tour of Australia, and Chris Schofield almost gave up cricket after his experiences. Ever since the Gatting ball, we have been searching for so desperately for our own Shane Warne that it has destroyed a number of careers - so god help Adil Rashid.

    As one final thought, there is one other spinner in the world who is quiet and a bit eccentric off the field, who seems born to bowl and has help from a quirk in his physique, has had no renowned mentor but has created devastating variations, has always been a rabbit with the bat and a dreamer in the field and who keeps runs down whilst taking hatfuls of wickets. But if we're now criticising Monty for not being Murali, then the world really has gone mad.

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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    Great post.

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    Eternal Optimist / Cricket Web Staff Member GIMH's Avatar
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    Whoa, welcome to CW, awesome read, very thought-provoking.

    Though I thought we had a spin coach?
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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Uppercut's Avatar
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    Wow, that's a long first post. Welcome to CW

    You make a few good points, but i think you let Monty off a bit too easily. His bowling is his own responsibility, you can't blame anyone but him for his failure to develop an arm-ball, disinterest in field settings and lack of flight and control, not to mention his fielding and batting. Coaches can help, but it's a 100% certainty that at some point in his career someone has told him he needs to toss the ball up more or vary his pace. Noone can make him do it, Monty has to work on it himself.
    Quote Originally Posted by zaremba View Post
    The Filth have comfortably the better bowling. But the Gash have the batting. Might be quite good to watch.


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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    Thanks guys - I post on a cricket blog elsewhere, but it's a bit quiet there and I wanted to post things somewhere busier and get some discussion going.

    Not to my knowledge, on the spin bowling coach - certainly not one who concentrates on the first team. I'm happy to be proved wrong, though.

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    Cricket Web: All-Time Legend Uppercut's Avatar
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    What blog do you post on?

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penguinissimo View Post
    Not to my knowledge, on the spin bowling coach - certainly not one who concentrates on the first team. I'm happy to be proved wrong, though.
    David Parsons was such a thing at one point, but has since succeeded to the position of "performance chief" (in short: academy head coach). I presume a replacement in his former role has been appointed, but I know not who.
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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    You make a few good points, but i think you let Monty off a bit too easily. His bowling is his own responsibility, you can't blame anyone but him for his failure to develop an arm-ball
    Well, I'm not saying someone needs to do all the work for him - but with this point, it would help to have a mentor. It is also relevant that he has barely played any county cricket since his selection (ask any Northants fan), and so hasn't had the forum to try things with impunity, or close to it. Peter Moores alluded to the latter point in his defence of Monty after the first Test.

    disinterest in field settings
    This comes back to my point about him not knowing what is required of him. How can he set his own fields when he isn't sure whether he's supposed to contain or attack? If someone said "Monty, come on and take wickets - what do you want?", I'd have thought he'd have some views, but I don't get the impression it's often as simple as that.

    and lack of flight and control
    These are two different things, and lumping them together is actually one of the attitudes that is the problem - you can concentrate on flight, or concentrate on control.

    not to mention his fielding and batting.
    Has it ever occurred to anyone that he has bad reactions / co-ordination, and that he's just good at bowling? Or that his concentration is rubbish (not that that stops Ian Bell getting a place at no. 3)? Not saying it's true, but if he's worked this hard at batting and fielding and is still rubbish, then surely at some point we think we're just flogging a dead horse?

    Coaches can help, but it's a 100% certainty that at some point in his career someone has told him he needs to toss the ball up more or vary his pace.
    But have his captains?

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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uppercut View Post
    What blog do you post on?
    third-umpireDOTblogspotDOTcom

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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    New favourite poster. Do you bowl spin?

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    Global Moderator vic_orthdox's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penguinissimo View Post
    third-umpireDOTblogspotDOTcom
    Hmm, should get blogspot removed from the filter sometime soon too.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penguinissimo View Post
    third-umpireDOTblogspotDOTcom
    Presume that's b-log-s-pot?

    EDIT: beaten to it by SmackNamara AND the edit.

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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Richard View Post
    David Parsons was such a thing at one point, but has since succeeded to the position of "performance chief" (in short: academy head coach). I presume a replacement in his former role has been appointed, but I know not who.
    Yes, but he was the ECB spin bowling coach, whose chief role seemed to be to identify and bring through young spinners.

    What about the equivalent of Andy Flower for batsmen? A spin bowling coach who travels with the Test / ODI team and is responsible for coaching those in the England squad?

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    U19 12th Man Penguinissimo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by vic_orthdox View Post
    New favourite poster. Do you bowl spin?
    I bowl chinamen at distinctly average club level.

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    Cricket Web Staff Member Richard's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Penguinissimo View Post
    Yes, but he was the ECB spin bowling coach, whose chief role seemed to be to identify and bring through young spinners.

    What about the equivalent of Andy Flower for batsmen? A spin bowling coach who travels with the Test / ODI team and is responsible for coaching those in the England squad?
    As far as I was aware, Parsons was someone who oversaw spinners at ALL levels. Those at the top level and at grassroots.

    The role was first designated over 2 years though, so may have changed.

    Personally though I don't believe there's enough need for a full-time spin-bowling coach with the international side. Unlike batting and seam-bowling, spin is a minority role - often a team is best-served going into a side without a spinner in this day-and-age. It'd be a waste of money IMO to have anyone in the role other than what Parsons was doing.
    Last edited by Richard; 22-12-2008 at 04:09 AM.

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