‘Monty Python’ no laugh­ing mat­ter

Kapi-Mana News - - SPORT -

Iwant to talk about Eng­land crick­eter Monty Pane­sar. Per­haps I should be fo­cus­ing on the ICC anti-cor­rup­tion unit’s in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Chris Cairns, Lou Vin­cent and Daryl Tuf­fey and the match-fix­ing al­le­ga­tions swirling around, but there’s not much to say about that just now.

No smoke with­out fire, or in­no­cent un­til proven guilty? You choose. It’s only spec­u­la­tion be­cause no facts have emerged, and I wouldn’t be sur­prised if none do.

Mean­while across the Tas­man, Michael Clarke’s Aus­tralians, spear­headed by pace­man Mitchell Johnson, have been smash­ing Eng­land to pieces in some tasty Ashes ret­ri­bu­tion.

The English have been woe­ful – timid, di­rec­tion­less bat­ting and in­sipid, tired bowl­ing.

I have been rather taken with Pane­sar, though.

He was be­lat­edly re­called to the test arena for the match in Ade­laide last week, and went in at No 11 in the first in­nings to try to help Ian Bell sal­vage some­thing from an­other bat­ting wreck.

Pane­sar isn’t as bad a bats­man as was our Chris Martin, but he’s not far off. He nar­rowly fails the ‘‘ to­tal rab­bit’’ test be­cause he has taken more test wick­ets than he has scored test runs – 218 runs, 165 wick­ets.

But Pane­sar is the nat­u­ral No 11 in any bat­ting lineup.

He was pum­melled by Peter Sid­dle in Ade­laide, be­ing hit re­peat­edly on the hel­met and body.

Fi­nally he was bowled by Johnson, not be­cause he shied away, but be­cause Johnson was sim­ply too fast for him.

It seems fash­ion­able to make fun of Pane­sar’s bat­ting.

How­ever, let’s not for­get, he helped save a test against Aus­tralia at Cardiff in 2009, when he and James An­der­son lasted 69 balls to se­cure a draw that ul­ti­mately won the se­ries for Eng­land. He re­peated the res­cue act in Auck­land early this year, when he and Matt Prior defied New Zealand in an­other last-wicket part­ner­ship.

Left-arm spin­ner Pane­sar hasn’t had a lot of joy from the Eng­land se­lec­tors.

He made his test de­but in 2006 and his first two wick­ets were Sachin Ten­dulkar and Rahul Dravid.

Yet the se­lec­tors took a long time to re­alise he was bet­ter than Ash­ley Giles and then were fairly quick to re­place him with Graeme Swann as the No 1 Eng­land spin­ner.

He keeps com­ing back, though, tak­ing bun­dles of wick­ets in county cricket and forc­ing his se­lec­tion.

Mudhsu­den Singh Pane­sar, born in Lu­ton (he’s an avid fan of the un­fash­ion­able Lu­ton Town foot­ball club), is a crowd favourite around the world.

Cricket com­men­ta­tor Henry Blofeld once re­ferred to him as ‘‘Monty Python’’ and he is of­ten the butt of com­men­ta­tors’ hu­mour, some of it with rather a pa­tro­n­is­ing edge. It’s ig­no­rance, ac­tu­ally. He has a de­gree in com­puter science, has 119,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers and usu­ally in­duces a spe­cial cheer from fans when he walks out to bat, or when he fields a ball.

I’m not sure why com­men­ta­tors scoff at him. If ev­ery Eng­land crick­eter fought as hard and showed his courage, their team would be far­ing way bet­ter this sum­mer.

Photo: REUTERS

End of as in­nings:

Monty Pane­sar com­pletes an­other brave ef­fort with the bat for Eng­land.

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