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Monty Panesar, in his exclusive diary for Cricinfo, reflects on the warm-up games in Perth ahead of the third Test
December 13, 2006
After missing out on the first two Tests it was really nice to play in the one-dayer at Lilac Hill and the warm-up at the WACA. It's always good to get real match practice and a good work-out for my bowling, and I really enjoyed myself. In the nets, you can keep on grooving your disciplines and make sure you are doing the right things. But playing in a real game is so different. The more you play as a cricketer, the more you keep on improving. The key is that you mustn't get into bad habits in the nets. You have to be practising with intensity and hard work, and then you'll be confident to deliver when your time comes.
There's a lot of speculation that I will be playing at Perth, but I don't read into anything. It was a selector's judgment that got me picked for this Ashes squad, and it will be a selector's judgment when my time finally comes, if it does come. If they feel my time is now, then I'll trust them. If it isn't, then I'll continue the way I have done, focus on my cricket and stay positive as I have done all tour.
There was a bit of bounce on the WACA wicket, but it was important for me to bowl with tight lines and discipline. I think I bowled my balls in the right areas and did what I can do, and if my time is now, so be it. I'm pretty happy with the way the ball is coming out, and I've got a clear simple plan in my mind. I won't be putting any pressure on myself, I'll just be taking it one ball at a time.
I had a tough day at Lilac Hill when their batsmen, particularly Luke Ronchi, decided to come after me, but as a spinner, that really does help to develop you. These things happen in one-day cricket, and so you have to learn to do other things with the ball. It certainly wasn't a festival atmosphere in that match. It was a competitive game, which is the way Australians play their cricket. They want to win as best they can.
It certainly wasn't a festival atmosphere in that match, it was a competitive game
Australian crowds have a bit of a reputation, but on the whole they seemed to be pleasant and had a passion for the game. A few things get said but it's all lighthearted banter, really. You try not to take anything to heart, because all they are doing is trying to have a laugh, and I think it's good that people follow the game quite so passionately. As a cricketer I just focus on what I need to do, and do it to the best of my ability.
There was a little incident at the WACA when I snatched my sweater back from the umpire at the end of an over, after he turned down an appeal for a catch. Talking to the keeper and the rest of the guys, they agreed there was a big nick and, given the way the ball reacted off the pitch and went to slip, I was sure it was going to be given out, but obviously the umpire didn't think so.
Things like that shouldn't happen but I immediately apologised to the umpire, and he understood I was just quite excited about getting a wicket. We laughed it off with no hard feelings. Obviously it had been a while since I played a game and you just want to try your best. I am quite passionate when I play my cricket, but of course, things like that shouldn't happen so I apologised immediately.
When things like that happen you just try to go through your processes, I suppose. It's not the be-all and end-all. You get a game, you try your best, and you do what you'd do in any other game. I can't allow myself to think 'this is my only chance to impress all tour'. Sometimes decisions don't go your way and you've just got to take it on the chin.
Still, I did get a direct-hit run-out, which was nice. That's something I've been working on gradually. Obviously my fielding is improving, but I think I've just got to keep at it. When you get direct hits you can see that the work you are doing is going in the right channels. I'll just take it step by step, keep plugging away, and one day, hopefully, I can finally be a multi-dimensional cricketer. I also got a catch at Lilac Hill, but that was just a normal chance and all I had to do was be professional about it, and do as I would do in training.
After a few days' break, the team is really upbeat at the moment. We all went to the Elton John concert last night - he's a legend in the music industry - and that shows the togetherness we have as a team. Everyone cares about everyone's performances, and yesterday was a good chance to get together before the Test. We are determined to show a big fight.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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