The Ashes 2013-14 September 23, 2013

Onus on Panesar despite professional help


Monty Panesar has been given professional help in overcoming the personal problems which have dogged his season, but it is now down to him to show he is a reformed character after being handed a place on the Ashes tour.

Panesar was forced to leave Sussex for Essex in August after being fined following an incident in Brighton where he urinated on bouncers. When England wanted a second spinner for The Oval Test they went for Lancashire's Simon Kerrigan, but his awful debut - where he bowled just eight overs for 53, amid a series of full tosses and long hops - meant the decision on who would support Graeme Swann in Australia was between Panesar and James Tredwell.

With 164 wickets at 33.78 in 48 Tests there was no doubt that Panesar remained the second best spinner, but a key part of England's success in Australia during 2010-11 - of which Panesar was a squad member - was having a tightly-knit squad and the management will have wanted assurances that Panesar would be able to fit into that mould.

In India last year Panesar formed a matchwinning partnership with Swann during England's series victory, but then struggled in New Zealand when he was left as the sole spinner after Swann's elbow injury flared up.

Even before his raucous night out, Panesar's domestic form for Sussex had not been outstanding - although he was part of the squad for the Old Trafford Test - but he has shown signs of regaining his form and confidence with Essex even if 12 wickets at 33.66 is not overwhelming.

The ECB has provided support for Panesar over the last few weeks and he will continue to be offered the assistance he needs, but he could face a tour with a lot of time on the sidelines which will be a test of his focus.

Hugh Morris, the outgoing managing director of England cricket, said: "We try to provide different support to different players. Clearly that remains confidential, but you can rest assured that the support Monty needs - both on and off the field - he is getting."

Geoff Miller, the national selector, said he had been given enough assurances that Panesar will be able cope with the two-and-a-half month trip from late October to early January.

"He's very prepared to let his bowling do the talking for him, so I'm prepared to accept that,'' Miller said. He's an experienced international player, and it's up to him to actually produce the goods for us.'

"Monty had his problems, which we've worked hard to rectify in the last six weeks - and he has too,'' he said. "There's a very strong management in that side to help all aspects of it. He's appreciated he's made errors and he's very sure that those errors are behind him now."

Although official stand-by players for the main squad have not been named, Miller did say that he had been in conversation with Tredwell about being ready for a call-up if the situation regarding England's spin options did change. "He's not on stand-by as such, but anything can happen on tour - injuries or an unforeseen problem - so a phonecall can be minutes away. These fringe players know the call may not be far away."

Spin bowling is the one area where English cricket is not overly stocked with options at the moment. Kerrigan and Danny Briggs, the Hampshire left-arm spinner, are the two spinners in the performance squad although the likes of Azeem Rafiq, Adil Rashid and Scott Borthwick may come into consideration for the Lions tour of Sri Lanka early next year.

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Anver on September 24, 2013, 9:26 GMT

    Proven Monty has fared well partnering Swann in the past... so ECB has taken that risk, which i think is worth taking !!!! Go Eng Go !!!!!!

  • Dummy4 on September 24, 2013, 9:08 GMT

    my apologies about that incorrect statement. But 174 wickets at 26 are still brilliant stats. He needs a lot more opportunities.

  • Richard on September 24, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    Monty : I honestly thought we had seen the end of him in England colours. Just shows how few spinners we have available. Lets hope Swann stays fit for the series. If Swann was unfit for the whole series we could expect approx 1000 balls from Monty - all exactly the same! Let alone pretty feeble fielding and batting. The possibility of him taking wkts in AUS is remote.

  • Dummy4 on September 24, 2013, 2:26 GMT

    Simon Kerrigan has more than 300 first class wickets and is only 24. now he had one bad game and the selectors look to have abandoned him completely instead of encouraging him. monty is a class act but needs to show form at first class games before selection, as well as some sanity. So for now simon needs to be the second spinner used.

  • Simon on September 23, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Lets be honest many bouncers are not the nicest people, and I recall many a ding dong between Royal Marine mates and bouncers, and they werent thrown out of the role for their country. It was a stupid thing to do, but all this his character is flawed and he's having mental problems is all a bit over the top. The guy knows what he's doing in the england set up, hes a good experienced spinner, he deserves to be there, slap him on the wrists, he's moved employers, dock him pay if you want, but get over it.

  • Dummy4 on September 23, 2013, 18:59 GMT

    Tedious hot air about Panesar - he's the 2nd best spin bowler in England - pundits and holier-than-thou types who seem to be all over cricket like a cheap suit need to direct their energies towards something more appropriate, like, oh I don't know, the bakery column in Women's Weekly?

  • Tom on September 23, 2013, 18:55 GMT

    I have seen good batsman struggling against his spin and when he is in a full flow he is quite handy. At times he looks much more penetrating than Swann and I must say Australia would dare to give Swann and Panedar a spinning track.

  • Peter on September 23, 2013, 17:47 GMT

    In my opinion he is lucky to get a second chance considering his form, age and off field behaviour. He must be on very thin ice though, I imagine if things had gone better for Kerrigan at the Oval then Monty would not have been seen again in an England squad.

    I imagine one slip up and he'll be on a plane back to England quicker than you can say night club bouncer