England in India 2012-13 November 26, 2012

The devastating self-restraint of Monty Panesar

In which the turbanned one fails to present Andy Flower with a cake frosted with sarcasm
33

A dramatic, series-swivelling day in Mumbai featured some of the best batting imaginable, and some considerably less good than that, as well as a pitch-perfect demonstration of how to bowl spin in Indian conditions, a masterclass that the Indian bowlers, apparently unfamiliar with such circumstances, would do well to take on board. Earlier, Kevin Pietersen played what Americans would describe as "an innings for the ages". Whilst he was batting, it was patently an innings of incredible skill and boldness. When India started attempting to bat on the same pitch, Pietersen's reintegration-accelerating 186 began to look like a work of unarguable sporting genius. I confidently predict any future dressing-room spats between KP and his team-mates in the build-up to crucial series-deciding Test matches are likely to be resolved without him being omitted from the side.

Here, then, are the Official Confectionery Stall Mumbai Test Day Three Awards.

GREATEST ACT OF SELF-RESTRAINT OF THE DAY: Monty Panesar, on taking his tenth wicket of the match Panesar, who became one of the first England bowlers for some time to open the bowling with a long-off, took five wickets in a classic display of aggressive spin bowling on a helpful surface. He induced edges from Sehwag and Dhoni with perfectly pitched, dipping, fizzing away-tweakers, hurried a quicker, straighter one past Tendulkar to trap the fading magician leg-before, and took the left-handed Yuvraj's glove with turn and bounce.

Monty's most remarkable achievement, however, was the formidable self-control he showed on taking his fifth wicket of the innings, and tenth of the match, when he duped the charging Ashwin into misreading the length of a ball that had been held back slightly and skying a catch to cover. Somehow Monty managed to prevent himself from celebrating his personal triumph by sprinting straight into the dressing room and giving Andy Flower a cake shaped like the Sardar Patel Stadium in Ahmedabad with the words "Thanks for the week off work" iced sarcastically on the top, alongside Pragyan Ojha's and Tim Bresnan's bowling figures from the first Test. That is testament to the man's remarkable equanimity.

England also erred on the side of seam in the first Test against Pakistan last winter, and duly lost on a turning pitch. Panesar returned for the second Test, and took 6 for 62 in the second innings to bowl England into a winning position, albeit one from which they absolutely and utterly failed to win. As the late 19th-century writer, wit, prison sceptic and possible cricket expert Oscar Wilde himself once wrote, "To leave Monty Panesar out of one subcontinental first Test may be regarded as a misfortune. To leave Monty Panesar out of another subcontinental first Test less than a year later looks like carelessness."

NON-PIETERSEN SHOT OF THE DAY: Virat Kohli's splooted honk to mid-off (I have disqualified Pietersen's various classical, innovative, surreal and sumptuous masterstrokes, to facilitate the judging process.)

Kohli, fast becoming an ODI great, still awaits his definitive breakthrough as a Test batsman. The stage was set for him to make that step yesterday, with his team in a dire but not irretrievable position. Kohli marched onto that stage, bowed nervously, then carried on marching across the stage before falling straight into the orchestra pit to a cacophony of clanging cymbals and angry trombonists. Metaphorically.

After a difficult start against Panesar, Kohli's eyes lit up when Swann lobbed him a full toss so juicy that the batsman should still be drinking it for breakfast. In fact, they lit up so vigorously that they seemed to burn his retinas to a crisp, judging by how far from the middle of the bat the ball was when it made contact with the wood. A curious wooden clonk resounded across the Wankhede, somewhat reminiscent of an idiot headbutting a coconut. The ball, which by rights should have been pummelling the advertising hoardings, blooped apologetically to wide mid-off, where Root took a simple catch.

Kohli reacted with the disgust and self-admonishment of someone who had just realised that he had inadvertently taken a vegetable quiche back to the nursing home and popped his grandmother into the oven, and trudged off the field at an understandably funereal pace that suggested he did not particularly want to see his coach, captain, team-mates or own reflection in the mirror.

Around the stadium, low-grade amateur cricketers such as myself were struck by the strange familiarity of that wooden clonk. "What does that remind me of?" we thought. "Yes, that's it. That is the sound of me, playing a rubbish shot in village cricket." It is not often that the humble punter can watch elite sportsmen do something at the highest level of their sport, and think: "I could have done that." But Kohli, heroically, gave us all that opportunity to feel a momentary connection with the hallowed confines of Test cricket.

Batsman are often criticised for playing a "stupid shot" when they are dismissed in a this fashion. Kohli's was not a stupid shot. It was a sensible shot. Stupidly played.

Swann, meanwhile, celebrated as if he had just bowled Bradman with a square-turning pearler. Having snared Pujara in his first over with one of his many perfectly pitched offbreaks, Swann proceeded to bowl a clutch of wicket-taking deliveries that did not take wickets. He did, however, take a wicket with that rancid full bunger. Such is cricket. Such is life.

Runners-up:

1. Cook's extra-cover drive to reach his century, exquisitely timed and utterly authoritative.

2. Prior's late cut off Ojha. Prior is a fabulously stylish batsman, whose strokemaking, had he been playing 80 years earlier, would have had Neville Cardus dribbling into his iPad and ploughing through his thesaurus for suitably expressive adjectives. Point proved, Prior then ran himself out, in what now looks like a strategically impeccable ploy to give Panesar and Swann maximum time to bowl England to the brink of victory.

3. Ashwin's straight six off Swann. Another effortless, statuesque smite by the Indian allrounder, proving why he could be a top six batsman. He then proved why he is not a top six batsman, by charging and hoicking at Panesar with eight balls remaining in the day, and a partnership between him and the resolutely battling Gambhir India's only realistic outside microhope of rescuing the match.

IMPROVED SPECTATOR EXPERIENCE AWARD: Gate 3 The ground-entry procedure about which I was grumbling a couple of days ago has speeded up considerably, and yesterday's Gate 3 transit time was a breezy 15 minutes, despite there seeming to be a longer queue than there was for Day 1's 60-minute megashuffle.

RIGHTLY BANNED OBJECT OF THE DAY: The Newspaper Newspapers have rightly been ruled as contraband products at the Wankhede, and I was only too happy to be stripped of mine on the way into the ground. The authorities for once have put the interests of the paying public first, and removed the possibility of spectators pooling their newspapers together to build a giant, 25-metre-high papier-maché statue of Lalit Modi which could easily disturb play by coming to life, stomping across the outfield, kidnapping the players, and setting up a rival match on the outfield in the midwicket area. Credit where credit is due.

POTENTIAL DAY 4 STAT OF THE DAY: This could be only the third complete Test match ever played in which pace bowlers have taken fewer than two wickets Pacers took zero wickets in the India v England Test in Kanpur in 1951-52 (which, not entirely coincidentally, was the only other time before Panesar in the current Test that an England spinner ‒ Malcolm Hilton ‒ has opened the bowling and gone on to take five wickets in the innings), and only one in Sri Lanka's innings win over New Zealand in Galle in 1998 (and that one is dependent on you considering Chris Harris a pace bowler, which might require a few stiff drinks and a blow to the head).

The only other Tests in which seamers took one or no wickets were either obliterated by rain to less than a day's play, or only ten balls long due to the pitch falling to pieces like a badly baked birthday cake in a fistfight (West Indies v England, Antigua, 2009).

For those wanting to come to my stand-up gigs in Mumbai next week, here are details for Tuesday's show in aid of the Rotoract Club of the Caduceus at the YB Chavan Auditorium, Nariman Point, and for Wednesday's show at the Schitzengiggles Club, Hotel Bawa Continental, Juhu, at which I will be doing an extended set. I hope to confirm details of further shows in Bangalore and Kolkata shortly.

Andy Zaltzman is a stand-up comedian, a regular on the BBC Radio 4, and a writer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Vijay on December 5, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    Is it just me - the typical bite that your articles had - that seems to have fizzled out recently.

    Ofcourse, I do see the occassional rip rolling sentences and words - but they seem more infrequent.

    To use your own analogy - I see the last few articles of yours and think silently, "Isnt this almost like what I write". Do come back to your full flow Andy. I like your pen a lot more than a full blooded blow from Kohli. Goobatsmen are a dime a dozen today. Not so the good cricket writers

  • ATUL DEO on December 1, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    What India typically needed in Mumbai was a speed spin bowler like Bhagwat Chandrashekhar or Kumble on pitches that bounce with sharp spin. India has not groomed anyone to replace the speedy leg spinner. Rahul Sharma was the one on the list closest to Kumble. Ashvins carrom ball concept, which is now the fourth kind of spin option. With the success of Ashwin, we have overlooked the replacement to Kumble.The carrom ball bowling concept, will never get the best out of a bouncy wicket because of the typical grip while bowling the carom ball. India need to now work on the concept of four front line spinners on spinning tracks. Ideally, whenever India has played three spinners, it has been an offspinner, left armer and a speedy leg spinner. The speedy Leg spinner was missing in Mumbai. The pitch at Kolkatta will be slower and the venom will be out. England is over reading too much on their win.

  • faraz on November 28, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    "falling straight into the orchestra pit to a cacophony of clanging cymbals and angry trombonists".. you imagination. seriously!

  • Venkat on November 27, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Your presence was a big boost for England and they won.

  • Njr1330 on November 27, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Classic, Andy, absolutely classic; a Pietersenesque return to form! I once faced C.Z. Harris, and if he's a quick bowler, then I'm a Dutchman!

  • jv on November 27, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    Andy,

    Any chance of your stand up show in Singapore? There are many british expats here although I am not one of them. I would love to go for your show.

    cheers

  • 07sanjeewakaru on November 27, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen played what Americans would describe as “an innings for the ages” peires Morgan's American twitter followers...

  • jagat on November 27, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    Superb bit of writing - haven't laughed this loud since I first watched 'A Fish Called Wanda'...hysterical! :D

  • Laiq Khan on November 27, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    KP is a great player and i love him watching when he is playing, KP play the switch hit often it is amazing,

  • Bern on November 27, 2012, 1:02 GMT

    Any chance of English groundsmen producing raging turners from now on, regardless of weather conditions? RFM is so 1985. I lurve the spin. Don't need number eights capable of scoring 14. Declare and get bowling. Those twenty wickets won't take themselves. Unless you're Mr V Kohli.

  • Vijay on December 5, 2012, 2:13 GMT

    Is it just me - the typical bite that your articles had - that seems to have fizzled out recently.

    Ofcourse, I do see the occassional rip rolling sentences and words - but they seem more infrequent.

    To use your own analogy - I see the last few articles of yours and think silently, "Isnt this almost like what I write". Do come back to your full flow Andy. I like your pen a lot more than a full blooded blow from Kohli. Goobatsmen are a dime a dozen today. Not so the good cricket writers

  • ATUL DEO on December 1, 2012, 19:15 GMT

    What India typically needed in Mumbai was a speed spin bowler like Bhagwat Chandrashekhar or Kumble on pitches that bounce with sharp spin. India has not groomed anyone to replace the speedy leg spinner. Rahul Sharma was the one on the list closest to Kumble. Ashvins carrom ball concept, which is now the fourth kind of spin option. With the success of Ashwin, we have overlooked the replacement to Kumble.The carrom ball bowling concept, will never get the best out of a bouncy wicket because of the typical grip while bowling the carom ball. India need to now work on the concept of four front line spinners on spinning tracks. Ideally, whenever India has played three spinners, it has been an offspinner, left armer and a speedy leg spinner. The speedy Leg spinner was missing in Mumbai. The pitch at Kolkatta will be slower and the venom will be out. England is over reading too much on their win.

  • faraz on November 28, 2012, 8:13 GMT

    "falling straight into the orchestra pit to a cacophony of clanging cymbals and angry trombonists".. you imagination. seriously!

  • Venkat on November 27, 2012, 14:48 GMT

    Your presence was a big boost for England and they won.

  • Njr1330 on November 27, 2012, 11:33 GMT

    Classic, Andy, absolutely classic; a Pietersenesque return to form! I once faced C.Z. Harris, and if he's a quick bowler, then I'm a Dutchman!

  • jv on November 27, 2012, 10:45 GMT

    Andy,

    Any chance of your stand up show in Singapore? There are many british expats here although I am not one of them. I would love to go for your show.

    cheers

  • 07sanjeewakaru on November 27, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Kevin Pietersen played what Americans would describe as “an innings for the ages” peires Morgan's American twitter followers...

  • jagat on November 27, 2012, 5:25 GMT

    Superb bit of writing - haven't laughed this loud since I first watched 'A Fish Called Wanda'...hysterical! :D

  • Laiq Khan on November 27, 2012, 3:43 GMT

    KP is a great player and i love him watching when he is playing, KP play the switch hit often it is amazing,

  • Bern on November 27, 2012, 1:02 GMT

    Any chance of English groundsmen producing raging turners from now on, regardless of weather conditions? RFM is so 1985. I lurve the spin. Don't need number eights capable of scoring 14. Declare and get bowling. Those twenty wickets won't take themselves. Unless you're Mr V Kohli.

  • John on November 27, 2012, 0:30 GMT

    I think I must be missing something here but didn't Laker take 19 wickets in a match thus meeting the criteria?

  • RSK on November 27, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    Love your posts, Andy ! Clearly, you have brought bad luck to the Indian by arriving here, as we were winning before that .....go away soon !

  • Sanjay on November 26, 2012, 18:55 GMT

    LOL. Andy you are a real comedian.

  • steve on November 26, 2012, 15:46 GMT

    great stuff! had a right old giggle over the Kohli/village cricketer part... so so true

  • Cliff on November 26, 2012, 14:17 GMT

    just wanted to make sure I got the main points of the article: (1) England should've played Monty in the first match and (2) Pietersen is a wonderful batsman. Please confirm as it wasn't entirely clear to me. Thanks.

  • Makarand on November 26, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Excellent piece I am unable to control my laughter as I read these lines. The description of Kohli's expression is perfect. Hope to attend your gig in Mumbai.

  • david on November 26, 2012, 12:28 GMT

    Great work, Andy. Ah, but should Bell and Finn get in the eleven for the next Test? Bairstow has the right stuff and deserves to bat the rest of the series, and who should Finn replace? Broad's bowling should be persevered with, plus we wouldn't want further extension of the tail right up to 9.

  • Anonymous on November 26, 2012, 12:18 GMT

    Andy, you have summed up the Indian performance well truly a shamble and an embarrasment to the caliber of cricketers involved. What a shame it was and also painful to see them get out.I never want to waste my time watching such trash ever again. Indian selectors must take a hard look in selecting without fear or favour, and giving budding players a chance.Please for heaven sake, rest out Tendulkar,Yuvraj and Dhoni.So what if india loses this series ?It is time to take a good look at the future of cricket in India. The wicket was prepared for Indian Spinners but see who grasped the opportunity. It was a most pathetic performance from a Test team, and we cannot have repeat of this ever again.Long live cricket in India.

  • Humair on November 26, 2012, 11:42 GMT

    Like many others, I read it in office and it was just as well that I have a room to myself ... In an open-format office setting, I would have been sent packing for lunatic behaviour. Thanks, Andy

  • Anonymous on November 26, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    I noticed at the end of this test that England used four bowlers, each of whom has taken over 150 wickets in tests; I wonder if that's ever happened before? One for the multistats, perhaps? :-)

  • Silk on November 26, 2012, 9:52 GMT

    I'm sitting hear at work with tears of laughter coursing down my cheeks. Thanks Andy.

  • Craig on November 26, 2012, 8:45 GMT

    Will the Cricket ground cake market pick up now?

    The Aussie quicks took 3 wickets in that match George. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/match/62814.html

  • Mercian on November 26, 2012, 8:41 GMT

    Nice work! Getting paid twice for the same stuff is always good. I heard you on Radio 5.

  • David Murray Milne on November 26, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    '56 Old Trafford Test Lindwall and Ron Archer took three England wickets between them. C.Z.Harris is indeed classified as Right Arm "medium" but by goodness know's whose judgement. I was quicker than him bowling underarm.

  • Jamie on November 26, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    @Andy, Brilliant as always.

    @George. Aussies Lindwall and Archer, both quicks, took 2 and 1 respectively in the England first innings.

  • Gareth on November 26, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    @George Nope. Australia took three of the ten wickets they got in that match via pace bowlers. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/62814.html

  • Owais on November 26, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    Wonderfully crafted Andy! Though I am an admirer of Kohli's skill but you are so true; those skills have shown more prominently only in ODIs..all credit to Panesar and Swann for their effort and also to some sloppy show of batting by the Indians.

  • Saurabh on November 26, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    As always, well written Andy. You just missed out on umpires :)

  • George on November 26, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    I think you will find that the 1956 test between England and Australia at Old Trafford was also one in which the pace bowlers took no wickets.

  • Sudesh Palav on November 26, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Hi Andy, Any chance you were in Sachin Tendulkar Stand Level 3 ??

  • Srini on November 26, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    Spectacular effort by Zaltzy !!!!

    I wish you had taken some more hilarious digs at the Indian batting (esp Shewag and Dhoni for their utter incompetence, having successfully bulldozed Kohli). We could then have reposted it all across Facebook, and as the current trend is in India, maybe even have a police case against you :P.

    Well played, sir.

  • navroze on November 26, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    wonderfully written tongue in cheek and much more

  • Jacob on November 26, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    One of your best Andy! I guess in a world mad enough for England to out-spin India you're not lacking for inspiration. Your lines about newspapers and Modi, and Chris Harris had me laughing at work in a most embarrassing manner. (I also laughed while I was at work)

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Jacob on November 26, 2012, 5:42 GMT

    One of your best Andy! I guess in a world mad enough for England to out-spin India you're not lacking for inspiration. Your lines about newspapers and Modi, and Chris Harris had me laughing at work in a most embarrassing manner. (I also laughed while I was at work)

  • navroze on November 26, 2012, 6:17 GMT

    wonderfully written tongue in cheek and much more

  • Srini on November 26, 2012, 6:36 GMT

    Spectacular effort by Zaltzy !!!!

    I wish you had taken some more hilarious digs at the Indian batting (esp Shewag and Dhoni for their utter incompetence, having successfully bulldozed Kohli). We could then have reposted it all across Facebook, and as the current trend is in India, maybe even have a police case against you :P.

    Well played, sir.

  • Sudesh Palav on November 26, 2012, 6:44 GMT

    Hi Andy, Any chance you were in Sachin Tendulkar Stand Level 3 ??

  • George on November 26, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    I think you will find that the 1956 test between England and Australia at Old Trafford was also one in which the pace bowlers took no wickets.

  • Saurabh on November 26, 2012, 7:27 GMT

    As always, well written Andy. You just missed out on umpires :)

  • Owais on November 26, 2012, 7:44 GMT

    Wonderfully crafted Andy! Though I am an admirer of Kohli's skill but you are so true; those skills have shown more prominently only in ODIs..all credit to Panesar and Swann for their effort and also to some sloppy show of batting by the Indians.

  • Gareth on November 26, 2012, 7:51 GMT

    @George Nope. Australia took three of the ten wickets they got in that match via pace bowlers. http://www.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/current/match/62814.html

  • Jamie on November 26, 2012, 8:00 GMT

    @Andy, Brilliant as always.

    @George. Aussies Lindwall and Archer, both quicks, took 2 and 1 respectively in the England first innings.

  • David Murray Milne on November 26, 2012, 8:25 GMT

    '56 Old Trafford Test Lindwall and Ron Archer took three England wickets between them. C.Z.Harris is indeed classified as Right Arm "medium" but by goodness know's whose judgement. I was quicker than him bowling underarm.