Monty Panesar - underdog/hero
It could be that Monty Panesar's
playing us all for fools. We all think that he's a liability in the field and also with the bat, but maybe he's just pretending. He seems a canny sort of guy. Perhaps he's worked out the most effective route the hearts of English supporters.
The English love an English world-beater, but more than that, they love an underdog. Monty Panesar has neatly positioned himself with a foot in both camps. He can't catch and he can't bat so people take him to their hearts. Then you put the ball in his hand and suddenly he's some sort of sorceror. Having been at the Test for day three, as Panesar beat the innards out of Pakistan's top order, we can testify that the level of affection is almost frightening.
We can't claim to be impartial either. We're just as much in his thrall. Much as Mark Nicholas makes us wince during Channel 5's highlights package, we can't help but agree with him that there's no finer sight than Monty's wicket celebration. 'Delight' is the most accurate word and it's infectious.
That Monty Panesar finished with worse second innings figures than Steve Harmison proves how deceiving statistics can be. Panesar took out five of the top six, including The Big Three, while Harmison merely polished off the tail, albeit efficiently and reassuringly - England sometimes have a problem in this department.
It got slightly lost in our giddy appreciation of Steve Harmison
, but Panesar's first innings performance was equally important. Imagine if Jamie Dalrymple had played. Steve Harmison might have ended up with nine wickets, but it would have been 9-100. When Panesar got Mohammad Yousuf, that was crucial. You can never say how things would have gone otherwise, but that really set things in motion as wickets fell either side of lunch.
During the match an Australian friend of ours contacted us to say: "Yeah, but can he catch?" We responded by saying that he didn't need to, which was a massive exaggeration, but which is more important, his catching or his bowling? We reckon his fielding flaws are exaggerated anyway. At least that's what we're telling ourself.
How much more impressed with Monty Panesar's bowling could we be? The answer, of course, is 'none'... None more impressed...Cross-posted at King Cricket