Monty Panesar's exclusive diary

Excitement and eagerness took over

Monty Panesar, in his exclusive diary for Cricinfo, reflects on his Ashes debut, at Perth

ESPNcricinfo staff

December 21, 2006

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Five-star Monty Panesar © Getty Images
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It's a dream come true to make an Ashes debut in Australia, and to take a five-for in the first innings is the icing on the cake. It's just been an amazing experience from start to finish, and there was a great atmosphere at the WACA. But obviously, for me, there are some real mixed feelings. The result of the match was really disappointing, and of course, we've lost the Ashes.

I only heard I was playing the night before the game, and it goes without saying I was pretty excited and really looking forward to it. It was a mixture of nerves and excitement, and when I got on the field my main aim was to try to relax while still enjoying the moment. I didn't really mind whether we had batted or bowled first. All that mattered was what's best for the team, to be honest.

Whenever your time comes to perform, all you can do is go out there and do the best you can. The situation was very similar to my debut in Nagpur, in terms of nerves, excitement and enjoyment. As a cricketer, to play in an Ashes Test is the sort of stuff you dream of from childhood as you watch on TV. This is what you've waited for and want to happen, and it's really very special.

As a spinner, it always helps to get that first over under your belt and thankfully I got the ball in the right areas, and got a maiden to help settle my nerves. And then, all of a sudden I bowled Justin Langer with my very next ball, and to be honest I didn't know what I was doing. When things like that happen I guess it's just a moment thing. I was dancing and jumping ... It's fair to say I was excited!

I just try to enjoy the moment, no matter what, and give my best while I'm at it. People have suggested that my celebrations help lift the team. If that's true it's great, but my focus in that Test was on living my childhood dream. Excitement and eagerness took over.

It was a personal thing - I wanted to see if I could counteract his attack

And so I took five wickets, which apparently is something that only two other Englishmen, Ian Botham and Bob Willis, have managed at the WACA. It's an honour to have my name associated with two guys who are such legends of English cricket. I mean, I'm just a young cricketer just starting out.

As for the fact that Shane Warne has never taken five at that ground ... to be honest, any comparison between me and Warne simply shouldn't be made. I mean, it's crazy to think how many wickets he's already got - 699 at the moment. My name shouldn't even be in the same sentence, to be honest.

All the same, it was pleasing to take a five-for. Freddie told me to go down to third man and just feel the buzz. It's a great feeling. Everyone was so positive and pumped up. The Barmy Army are very passionate supporters and one of our focuses, even though we've lost the series, is to do well in the next two Tests and make sure we put on a good performance for the fans.



Jumping for joy © Getty Images
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As for my batting, I made 16 not out in the first innings so I think that shows I've improved, but I've got to keep at it over time and keep putting in the hard work. I believe I can be a No. 8 batsman, but I've got to prove this to myself by scoring runs whenever I get the chance. That sort of position is a long long way away yet, to be honest, but if I keep scoring runs and getting not-outs then you never know how it could go.

From the start of the summer, I'd been practising on all areas of my batting, and at least I know the training is going in the right direction. It's nice that Kevin Pietersen was so impressed by the on-drive I played off Stuart Clark, but it's only over time that I'll know how good my strokeplay is. The more innings you play, you get a better feel of what your best strokes are. For now, I'll just keep it simple and play each ball on its merits.

My second-innings figures took a bit of a battering when Adam Gilchrist got stuck into me with 24 off one over. Your first instinct when someone hits you for six is: "I hope someone catches that", but then when you see it going further and further you just have to accept that was a great shot and admire it. Gilchrist hit some great shots in his 57-ball hundred, and I probably got the best view of it.

When that sort of thing happens you try to maybe do different things as a bowler - deceive the batsman in flight or change the pace of the ball, for instance. But he's just a great striker of the ball, and he can change the game in a session. To be honest, I'm glad he did that, because I learned so much more from that lesson than if he'd just milked me for ones and twos.

Even so, I'll only know if I've learned anything when it happens again, and if I can counteract it when it does happen. These are the little challenges, little developments, that you come across in international cricket, and it's great to go through these moments, because you know that you've developed as a player.

They were great strokes, but I wasn't put off and I wanted to bowl the next over, to try something different and see how he reacted. It was a personal thing - I wanted to see if I could counteract his attack, but I guess the captain has the best judgment in these situations, and he felt it was time for a change. I wasn't given the opportunity, but that's cricket for you.

It's difficult and disappointing that we've lost the Ashes, but I'm so glad I've been given this opportunity to come to Australia, because there's so much to learn, and a lot of experience to be gained. The MCG is a big stadium and we'll have a huge support making a lot of noise there, so the atmosphere will be really exciting. We've got training on Christmas Day, and I can't wait for that. Being in Australia is great. Hopefully I can keep plugging away.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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