Sri Lanka in England 2014 June 17, 2014

Panesar 'very difficult' to select - Moores

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As well as England's attack performed to push them within a wicket of victory on the final day at Lord's, they were screaming out for a specialist spinner, especially while they waited for the ball to reverse swing.

Moeen Ali did little wrong on his debut, picking up a notable maiden Test wicket in Kumar Sangakkara, and was not overawed by the situation. But nor did he cause the Sri Lankans many concerns, apart from one delivery on the final day which nearly took Sangakkara's edge to gully.

The ideal plan in the post-Graeme Swann era would have been to return to Monty Panesar, who played second fiddle to Swann but still has 167 Test wickets at 34.71. However, such are his problems, some form-related yet mostly off the field, that it appears he is further from consideration than he has ever been.

Peter Moores, the England coach, made it clear he was not in their immediate thoughts. "Monty is the most experienced Test match bowler but through other issues he has made it very difficult to look at him at the moment as an option," Moores said. "The key is to ... put himself up for selection like anyone else. Monty has to get himself in that place."

Panesar was given a second chance by the previous selection regime when he was named in the Ashes squad to tour Australia despite a season which had seen him fined for urinating on a bouncer outside a nightclub. That incident prompted a move from Sussex to Essex, where he then signed a permanent two-year contract, but this season he was dropped for timekeeping issues.

His figures in first-class cricket this summer are 26 wickets at 26.00. That puts him second among England-qualified spinners, behind Kent's Adam Riley, who has 33 wickets at 27.24. In the Sunday Times, Andrew Strauss touted Riley as an option for the India series while Kerry O'Keeffe, the former Australia spinner turned renowned commentator, has been impressed by brief glimpses over the internet.

Moores, too, has noted Riley's progress - which has kept James Tredwell out of Kent's Championship team - but has not forgotten Simon Kerrigan, who until six weeks ago was under Moores' charge at Lancashire.

"Kerrigan statistically has been the most prolific in first-class cricket," he said. "If you take that as one of the gauges it puts him in the frame. Obviously Riley has come on the scene.

"We are going to have to identify our next spinner, there's no doubt about that. All sides need the option of a frontline spinner. [One, or a couple] are going to have to play for us to be able to cover all options ... otherwise it is going to be a weakness in our ranks that people will be able to try to exploit."

Moeen's bowling has developed significantly over the last two seasons with Worcestershire, during which time he has averaged 32.56 in the Championship compared to 40.43 overall in his first-class career, but he was only given 12 overs on the final day while Joe Root was used shortly before the second new ball was taken.

It remains to be seen how much of role Moeen will play in the second Test at Headingley, but Moores said he could still be the option when India arrive.

"I think he has the chance at the moment," he said. "He is getting better quite quickly. He is going to have to adjust to take wickets as a Test match bowler."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Kruns on June 19, 2014, 15:57 GMT

    @accountancyman :- I Never meant financially India is a super power.... England with the current team may be the fav to win against india in there own backyard but the if they consider previous records and consider them to be easy going then i feel it would be a big mistake ..... With the line India currently has and ofcourse they are flaws but as soon as the same is solved in near future India will be a super power with the game thats what i meant...... Also Mark my words for India to do well overseas with the current set of individuals ..... The side which had beaten india last time around was a different england side but currently they are not at all top of the game ...

  • accountancyman on June 19, 2014, 12:42 GMT

    AdhishS - its because Tredwell form with red ball is non-existent. Quite a good limited overs spinner but not really an option for test match cricket. Better to go with somebody with form - even if we dont really recognise the name. If they do well then we will recognise the name.

  • accountancyman on June 19, 2014, 12:40 GMT

    Kruns - India is superpower of cricket. Iassume you mean financially seeing as they didnt win an overseas test match for almost 4 years. I dont mean a series, I mean any single game. And last here were destroyed 4-0 by and England team playing at 50%.

    England are for sure in a rebuilding phase and with no frontline spinner will struggle to dominate test matches - but they still have to be backed to beat Indian losers

  • AdhishS on June 19, 2014, 10:51 GMT

    Why doesnt England consider Tredwell in test matches? He is a very decent off spinner in the classical mould... flighting and dipping the ball. And he has done very well in the limited overs matches for England even against sub-continent batsmen who are considered to be better players of spin bowling...

  • Harlequin. on June 19, 2014, 10:39 GMT

    When I read the headline I thought it was going to be about cricketing reasons; something like 'he isn't a good enough bowler to make up for the fact he doesn't bat and can't field'. Now it turns out it is because of him as a person I am quite disappointed because it seems like all his issues stemmed from being left out of the England squad after the India tour. Perfectly understandable, to be one of the main reasons for winning the first tour in a country for decades and then being left out of the next one must make a player wonder what he has to do to get selected. @Kruns and AdhishS - you are correct, The Ashes is the topmost priority.

  • Dafffid on June 19, 2014, 10:22 GMT

    Irrespective of who is and is not worthy of selection, this public embarrassment of players is appalling and typical of England's behaviour over recent years. Who can forget putting Monty in the XI then Cook throwing the ball to Root - could they try any harder to destroy a player's confidence? And their handling of Finn and Harmison was equally shambolic. I pity the contenders for the spinner's position, particularly as England seem committed to playing one or two all-rounders as front-line bowlers - they'll have no stability, no continuity and have their confidence torn to ribbons in no time.

  • Kruns on June 19, 2014, 10:19 GMT

    @AdhishS Agree with you......

    @SirViv1973 :- Current England team is good for nothing and after dropping KP they have become worst.... Yes there were some performances in Lords by Root and Balance but there is a long way to go and trust me any subcontinent team can win against this current england setup.... India is a superpower of Cricket although even they are going through a rebuilding process but cant even compare a single player of england against Indians. If you give worlds best eleven team to cook i guess he will make a mess of it but sure cant win it....

  • riaz.m on June 19, 2014, 10:10 GMT

    Just what exactly is Monty's crime? Has no person, let alone a cricketer, been ever late for a meeting or failed to turn up at all? I doubt it very much. Monty is being made a scapegoat and its probably eating into his confidence both on and off the pitch. Its the performance on the pitch that matters . If that warrants selection so be it.

  • AdhishS on June 19, 2014, 10:06 GMT

    @SirViv1973 : I agree with most part of your post except for the last part "a series win against ind would be welcome but is not essential at this stage of the rebuilding process"... I mean I sometimes wonder if winning the Ashes is the only topmost priority for England and Australia at all times???

  • bobmartin on June 19, 2014, 7:30 GMT

    Managing difficult players is something the ECB seem reluctant to do... or are maybe incapable of doing. It's easier to just not select them that it is to make the time and effort to educate them. Have the ECB not learned any lessons from what they have just been through with Pietersen.

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