Wednesday, December 12, 2007

I’m worried about Monty

There is something wrong. This is an innate, perhaps even distant, anxiety. Like unwittingly putting a jumper on the wrong way around – you are vaguely aware of the world being disrupted, but it’s not worth going to the doctors about. Eventually, a mocking friend points out your mistake and the universe is brought into order. Today, I am that friend.

One component of England’s seemingly ineffective attack is Monty Panesar. Although he is England’s leading wicket-taker (with 8 (Hoggard has 6; Murali has 14)), if we are to be honest without ourselves, the Sri Lankan batsman are untroubled by the Luton spinner. Those wickets he did take were, in the main, tail-enders (I count 5/8).

Moreover, even though he has been generally economical (going for three an over) he has only bowled 16 maidens. By my calculations, he bowls a maiden every 6.8 overs (Murali takes 3.4 to do likewise; Hoggard takes 4). In conditions where you seriously consider deploying two spinners, this is not good enough.

We all love Monty; he’s great. But there is much to criticise. His batting and fielding are just about passable.

But these weaknesses reveal a wonderful quality in Monty: his ability to improve his game. When he first entered our consciousness, his batting was appalling and his fielding derisible. But now, after working incredibly hard, he is now able to support an upper-order batsman in a handy late partnership and even effect match-changing run-outs.

But now Monty needs to slow down, and perhaps think a little more deeply about his game. Undoubtedly, he has an admirable work ethic, but his bowling doesn’t lack effort, he just needs to put some more thought into his deliveries.

He has always emphasised the importance of getting the ball “in the right areas”. He is very good at achieving this objective– just look at this. But, at this level, accuracy is not enough; you need to outfox your opponent. Vary your pace, change the loop, alter the spin or Warne the hell out of the batsman.

He is doing these things, obviously, but it is lacking direction and predatory intent. Rather, there is something mechanical about his approach. He has heaps of talent, but, if we look at lesser bowlers, like Stuart Clark, we notice that talent is not everything.

Monty needs to integrate these other, more crafty sides of bowling into his arsenal. Once he does (and he will ECB, you hear? Leave him alone) he’ll be better than free pens.

Thanks to all contributors to yesterday's party. Sometimes, I wonder if it is the links to other blogs are the best thing about Ayalac.


Moses @ OxenShizer said...

Ahh the second season blues.

Saw an interesting comparison last night, can't remember the exact stats but after 21 matches Monty is on par with that mother-chucker both averaging 30-odd and warney was around 26ish.

While I never thought I'd praise an English spinner in my lifetime, Monty is the real deal. Warney struggled early in his career on the sub-continent, actually he did later on as well though that was more injury related.

Uncle J rod said...

Monty is a democratic style spinner, conflict makes him nervous.

Suave said...

Monty's problem appears to be a lack of self-belief.
The one thing truly great cricketers have, is an unflappable belief in their own skills. Making them more likely to try things out of the ordinary.

Monty's good, but will never be great.

The Atheist said...

Perhaps self-belief comes with age? I think he just needs to mature, as a spinner, for a little bit.

Was it Karl Marx who said that you're not a proper spinner until you're thirty?

Monty still has a little way to go, yet. I have faith in him. I'm just getting a little...worried.