Monty Panesar's exclusive diary

'We've got a really good chance'

Monty Panesar, in his exclusive diary, reflects on the Australian tour and looks ahead to the World Cup

March 1, 2007

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Monty Panesar: feeling more at home in the England team after an up-and-down winter © Getty Images
When I set off for Australia at the start of this winter I never imagined that I'd finish it with a trip to the Caribbean for the World Cup. It has been a fantastic experience every step of the way, and now I'm really excited about the opportunity I've been given. First the Ashes, and now the World Cup. It's amazing to be involved in the two biggest tournaments in the calendar, so early in my career.

I really think we've got a good chance in the Caribbean. It was so important to finish the Ashes tour on a positive note, especially after the way the Test series went, and I think we showed in those one-dayers that there's a lot of energy and positivity in the camp that'll lead to good performances. It was great to turn it around and come home with a trophy.

All the way though the difficult times, we kept saying that someone would put in a special performance to spark things off - a hundred, a five-for, or a brilliant bit of fielding - and that came through an amazing catch from Paul Collingwood at short cover in the first final at Melbourne. It was an absolutely fantastic moment because Ricky Ponting was doing really well at that point, but it turned things around and we got a couple of wickets after that to really shift the momentum in our favour.

Obviously there were some really tough times in Australia, but I genuinely enjoyed every minute of my time out there. The stuff I learned in those three months will really help my cricket and career, especially the way we all stuck it out for the one-dayers, and allowed our team spirit to really shine through. We were disappointed after the Tests, but we never stopped backing each other and enjoying our training. We kept up our intensity, and came home with the CB Series.

The experience of playing cricket under floodlights in Australia was brilliant - the lights, the crowds, the intensity. It's funny how much quicker the pace is in one-day cricket. Overs fly by without you realising, you rush into position for one over and then the next one and then the next one. You always have to be on your toes, always thinking about this situation, that situation, what you're looking to do, the over-rates and so on. It's a great cricketing education.

Michael Vaughan only led us in three matches, but it was great to be captained by him for the first time, because he brought me straight into the team gameplan and gave me a lot of responsibility, even though it was my ODI debut. He used me in a lot of different situations - I came on for my first spell during the Powerplays, and I got brought back in different settings and with different field placings. It was great that such senior players as Vaughan and Flintoff showed faith in me straightaway.

I wouldn't say I'm now a banker for the World Cup, but I've just got to keep on working hard and taking my opportunities as they come. I can't rest on any laurels. But it has definitely helped my cricket to be involved with this team for the entire tour. Just being around the squad all the way through has helped me feel more at home in international cricket, while the experience of the one-dayers has definitely helped my fielding, and added a different dimension to my bowling.

Although we've got a lot of confidence at the moment, we know things won't be easy when the World Cup starts, because our first opponents, New Zealand, have also turned things around in recent weeks. They have some class batsmen and good bowlers like Daniel Vettori, so they are a dangerous one-day team. Vettori's a great player who I look up to. He's so good at varying his pace, and he knows how to bowl to different batsmen. Obviously he has played nearly 200 ODIs, and I've only played nine, but that's something I'll gradually build on.

As for Australia, well, we know that sides sometimes go through these patches, but come the World Cup, they are going to have their best players out there, as I'm sure most other teams will, and it will be really exciting for me to be part of it all. It's pretty much open to anyone. I'm looking forward to playing on the new grounds in the West Indies. Hopefully there will be some assistance for the spinners, but we'll just have to see how things pan out when we get there.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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