England in Sri Lanka 2011-12 April 1, 2012

Panesar place under threat for second Test


Little more than two months after his successful return to Test cricket, Monty Panesar could find himself back on the sidelines as England try to balance their side in their attempt to level the series against Sri Lanka.

The injury that has forced Stuart Broad to leave the tour ahead of the second Test in Colombo has created another selection dilemma because his likely replacement, Steven Finn, lacks his batting strength while Tim Bresnan, the other quick bowler in the squad, has not had enough cricket in recent months to be fielded as one of a two-man pace attack.

Jonathan Trott admitted it would not be a simple decision for the selectors. "Finny has been working hard on his batting so we should give him some credit," he said. "But obviously Stuart is very good as a bowling allrounder and adds that dynamic to the team."

Panesar bowled far from poorly in Galle but did not pose the same threat as he had done against Pakistan in the UAE. That was partly because the Sri Lankans, especially Mahela Jayawardene, made a conscious effort to lead with their bat rather than the pad so limiting the likelihood of lbws.

In the first innings, Panesar did a good holding job - conceding less than two an over - but had to wait until midway through Sri Lanka's second innings to claim a wicket and ended with 2 for 59.

Rangana Herath, Sri Lanka's left-arm spinner, by comparison had career-best match figures of 12 for 171 and showed the value of variations in pace and flight whereas Panesar's mode of attack was more predictable. Graeme Swann, meanwhile, starred in the second innings with 6 for 82 to cement his standing as England's lead spinner.

Panesar also did himself no favours with a poor fielding display when he dropped Jayawardene twice in consecutive overs during the latter stages of his 180. The first, a top-edged hook to fine leg, came out of a low sun and was less simple than it appeared but the second, which looped to him at mid-on, was an embarrassing drop. During training on Sunday, Panesar held the half-dozen catches given by Richard Halsall, the assistant coach, but nothing can replicate the pressure of a match situation.

Samit Patel's Test debut in Galle amounted to 11 runs and two wickets and the suggestion that he should retain his place ahead of the specialist bowler sounds at odds with the needs of England who must win to level the series therefore making 20 wickets a priority. However, taking 20 wickets has not been their problem this year; scoring runs has.

If Patel was omitted in favour of Bresnan it would leave Graeme Swann at No. 8 followed by three bowlers - Finn, Panesar and James Anderson - who do not offer a huge amount with the bat. There is one other option which involves bringing in Ravi Bopara as a specialist batsman and playing four frontline bowlers if Bopara's batting is viewed as substantially superior to Patel's. But England's need for a fifth bowler in these conditions has not disappeared.

There were few clues during England's net session on Sunday although Kevin Pietersen did bowl more than he often does on practice days.

The P Sara Oval groundsman, NS Silva, has said he thinks the match will go five days but England have not achieved that on their recent travels. There have been 11 results from the 15 Tests played at the venue, the last of which was in August 2010, when India chased down 257. Suraj Randiv took nine wickets in that match and spin has a good record at the ground. That still might not be enough for Panesar.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • John on April 3, 2012, 21:37 GMT

    @yorkslanka on (April 03 2012, 11:03 AM GMT - Thanks bud - Not sure which comms you're referring to but I'm flattered regardless. By the way - where does the Yorkslanka user name idea come from? Are you a Sri Lankan who lives in Yorkshire?

  • Nilantha on April 3, 2012, 11:03 GMT

    JG2704=top man..respect to you for your fair comments...

  • StJohn on April 2, 2012, 21:10 GMT

    @TeamSelector - I do get Andrew's point and yours, but it always strikes me as batting on a sticky wicket (pun intended) if you start modifying your ideal selections to try to remedy a deficiency in the team (ie the batting). It also strikes me that Bresnan is likely to do no worse with the bat than Bopara or Patel (indeed, his Test average to date is higher, I think, than both of theirs put together, for what that's worth). There must also be a case that having a 5-man bowling attack could ease the pressure on the batting by taking 20 SL wickets (hopefully!) a bit quicker, thus meaning we have to score fewer runs anyway. So I'd still go for the mix I suggested in my other comment. No disrespect to Patel - he seems like a likeable chap and all, but he seems to me to be a reversion to the sort of bits & pieces cricketer we turned to all too often in the horror years of the 1980s-90s. Therefore Finn replaces Broad and either Bopara or Bresnan for Patel, and I'd go for Bresnan.

  • muhammed on April 2, 2012, 20:52 GMT

    YorkshirePudding.... The point I am making is that when it comes to certain players they are put in immediate pressure where as others can go on there merry way failing and still getting selected. Panesar should have been dropped when he was first selected... But the attitude towards him changed after first few matches. A dil Rashid got dropped after playing so well Gainst the Aussies in one day match at the Oval. He was dropped the next game. Adil was partvof England squad that went to SA. He was played the first 20 20 game and if I remember correctly he was asked to bowl first ump in power play against Grame Smith! He got dropped and was sent home.... First player ever to be treated like that..... SSouth African press wrote that they felt he was very badly treated by England. Even the Aussie captain said the same. Of course his performance Got worse because he has lost faith in this system... I can name many others. Fact is there is no support for these guys to do wel. This is a fact

  • John on April 2, 2012, 18:54 GMT

    @ ranga_s on I don't agree with dropping Monty as a first measure when they haven't tried a batsman/bowler swap. This was the 1st match where Monty failed . However please don't feel that you shouldn't comment on Eng team selections just because you are Sri Lankan. Constructive comms always welcome no matter who or what country they come from

  • Ranga on April 2, 2012, 15:38 GMT

    As Sri Lankan fans I accept we don't have anything to do with England selections...But as a cricket fans which most of the Sri Lankans are would like to see Steven Finn in the team ahead of Panesar...Panesar will never scare Sri Lankans at Colombo...Galle wicket was not a dustbowl by any means and it was not a spinners paradise either but that would be the best assistance a spinner would get in Sri Lanka...England must realize Sri Lanka is not India and UAE and that wickets here are much more conducive for fair play as they offer assistance to all the parties in such a way if one is prepared to work for it...SSC is ruined and hopefully it's come out good again in time to come but rest of the pitches are excellent for test cricket.. Englands best bet would be following.

    Strauss Cook Trott Pietersen Bell Bopara Prior Patel Swann Anderson Finn

    Whatever Monty does as a player, patel will provide that too...get him to do a holding job while attack from ur strength..JA, GS & SF...

  • Valavan on April 2, 2012, 13:41 GMT

    @RandyOz, dont worry mate we will be just ready to face Clarke's men in June 2013, hopefully by that time OZ will rediscover something from their past, else Ashes will be in England until 2015. cricinfo please publish.

  • Virendra on April 2, 2012, 13:33 GMT

    Its time somebody like Johny Bairstrow gets Test debut in the next series and somebody like KP be dropped from test side till he gets back to form.

  • Saeed on April 2, 2012, 13:22 GMT

    Guys, you seem to be missing Andrew's point ... England doesn't have a problem picking up 20 wickets. Rather, they have a problem with putting runs on the board. Hence, the selectors will definitely pick a bowler who can bat ... ergo Bresnan will replace Broad. However the trickier selection will be whether or not to select Finn over Panesar. If Finn is selcted, then Patel will bat @6. & if Panesar is picked, then Bopara should bat @6 ... (Prior is a #7 batsman ... not a #6).

    1-Cook, 2-Strauss, 3-Trott, 4-KP, 5-Bell, 6-Patel, 7-Prior, 8-Bresnan, 9-Swann, 10-Anderson, 11-Finn.

  • Mark on April 2, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    @Shivfan, most of the time your posts are pretty good, but this is so far off that it is ridiculous. This is a one-off Test that England have to win. A key player who helps balance the side is injured. All options are on the table. All Monty's career he has suffered with the problem that he is a genuine number XI bat and a poor fielder who has to be hidden. He is a popular player with fans and team but knows that he will aways have to do better than Graeme Swann (who is a brilliant slipper and has First Class centuries) to add the same value to the team. You've seen the article about Shazad's travails. He had a horrible year but is very much in England's plans, although battling with players like Finn, Woakes & Tremlett to get another chance. Adil Rashid, I will agree is frustrating. He had a great start to last season and faded rapidly. He has been unable to combine a good batting season with a good bowling season and make an unarguable case. With places up for grabs now is the time!

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