Monty Panesar DVD – Monty’s Cricket Madness

Dear, dear – oh dear oh dear. The premise behind this tacky-sounding DVD is either a stroke of ingenuity or a bear trap. The DVD promises “a bumper collection of cricket gaffes and goofs” which have been “proudly picked by the Barmy Army”.

In how many of the gaffes will the presenter be appearing, I wonder? Place your orders

A question of spin

There were several factors that divided India and England this evening, but none may have proved quite so decisive as each team’s solution to the question of spin. Diametrically opposed at the toss, England left out Panesar while India brought in Powar. And while Monty was bringing on the drinks, his Indian counterparts were bringing England’s run chase under control.

England’s decision to opt in Tremlett was based on the short straight boundary at Bristol, which prompted fears that a front-line spinner would only leak runs. This attitude also seemed to infect their batting, with Collingwood bowled on the charge and Flintoff caught in the deep. Chawla in particular was impressive, tying down England’s batsmen. Ian Bell, normally a confident player of spin, lacked fluency and while his partners fell around him, he did not manage to keep the runs ticking over. Heroic though Mascarenhas’ quick tempo half-century and Broad’s impressive last over swinging may have been, it was too little, too late, against a spiralling run rate.

Although Prior and Cook started in a positive vein, a total exceeding 300 has seldom been posted at Bristol, let alone exceeded. Indian’s batting was much like that of England’s on Tuesday; Tendulkar in particular was outstanding at the top of the order, and Dravid superlative at the close. Given their performance at the Rose Bowl, England’s bowling was verging on wayward, although still an improvement on much of what we’ve seen over the last 12 months.

Tremlett’s inclusion did not pay off; however, it is questionable whether Panesar would have made the difference. India’s batsmen are amongst the best players of spin world wide, and this was reflected in Monty’s quiet Test series. The other slower bowlers in England’s ranks were treated to high economy rates today, despite watertight showings at Southampton, and Panesar might well have fallen to the same sword.

With Sidebottom still unavailable, when Collingwood takes his teamsheet to the toss at Edgbaston, it will be intruiging to see whom he calls upon. It seems highly unlikely that Monty will miss out again.

A video tribute to Monty Panesar

Don’t worry, he’s not dead. This is just a video I found of the great Montster, featuring Bonnie Tyler’s brilliantly inappropriate song (in terms of the feel of the music, not the title…) Holding Out For a Hero.

Click here if you can’t see the video above. Incidentally, I think that track was featured on Short Circuit, one of those epic films from my youth. Not as good as Big, mind. Big was massive.

Shiv Chanderpaul is…Kurt Cobain?

Arise ye geeks. I’ve just found out that one of the (many) anagrams of Shivnarine Chanderpaul is Nirvana Relaunched Hips.

Not quite as good as my Parmesan Tony (Monty Panesar), but it could catch on.

Twenty20 short-sightedness

I see Sir Viv has called for England to pick a team of 20-20 specialists for the World Cup later this year. It shouldn’t take a genius to point this out to the ECB. We have players capable of winning the thing, so why not give them a run out now against the Windies, rather than using this as a warm-up for the ODIs?

Colly, who seems to have graduated from the Alec Stewart academy of interviewing, says that these are the best ODI players in the country and that they’ll adapt. Wrong! 50-50 is a different game from 20-20, so pick a different team! The only concession they made in team selection was to drop Monty, presumably because he doesn’t bat or field. Have they learned nothing from Fletcher’s mistakes?! Spin is vital in 20-20 and he’s our best spinner. Play him! How long before they wheel Gilo out again? Sheesh.

Phrases and cliches to be banned (along with smoking)

It’s D-day for me and millions of other happy smokers on July 1. Yet while we wheeze our way to a healthier lifestyle at the behest of our loving, caring, huggable government, there is one burning issue in the ashtray of politics which has yet to be doused: clichés. They are absolutely everywhere, and the disease is spreading thick and fast.

Lawrence Booth wrote a piece on it for 2006′s Wisden Cricketers Almanack (absolutely required reading), but still nothing has been done. And I’ve just read one of the worst – one of my most hated expressions – from Paul Nixon, regarding tomorrow’s Twenty20 kick-off: express yourself. “Just go out there and express yourself”. It provokes in me a boiling rage, and makes me want to eat my feet.

Talking of such things, Mr Booth scribbled this in his column a couple of weeks ago which caught my eye:

Moments before Monty entered the Lancashire library to share his
thoughts on his four-wicket haul in West Indies’s first innings with
the press, a member of the fourth estate decided to get to work on
the pad of A4 placed on the table in front of Monty’s seat
(presumably in case he felt the need at any stage to jot down a few
thoughts). “REMEMBER TO SAY,” wrote the journalist “HIT THE RIGHT
AREAS, WORK HARD, KEEP IT SIMPLE”.

Enter Monty to stifled titters. He sits down, spots the advice and
chuckles out loud (the Spin has the chuckle on tape and will happily
place an audio version of it on-line if challenged). He points it out
to England’s media-relations officer, James Avery, who chuckles too,
and then scans the beaming faces before him in search of the culprit.

Superb. Lawrence’s The Spin is emailed to just about everyone who knows or cares about cricket, and journalism, every Thursday. Get it now.

And your favourite clichés? Come on; put your hands up and come to the party. Express yourselves…

2007 Beige Brigade awards

All sorts of bizarre and brilliant awards from the Beige Brigade. The World Cup won Off-field cockup of the year, naturally, while Monty Panesar was voted the on-field sensation, also earning the unlikely accolade of “the next Phil Tufnell”. He is not, on absolutely every level, but it’s made me laugh thinking about their comparisons. Apart from both being left-arm tweakers, I can’t imagine either has anything in common with the other. “Awight Mont, ahhhs it garn? Fackin right on, ‘appy days” and so on.

Anyway, here are the rest of the winners.

Contine reading

Monty: son of Punjab

Found on flickr

IMGP5975.JPG

satchmoid.


England’s Commonwealth Bank Series win completes my misery

I have a toothache from hell. It set in on Friday night, and my dentist can’t fit me in until Wednesday morning. So between that, and England totally outplaying Australia in the one day finals, I have not been a happy little camper. At the moment, I’m taking refuge in alcohol for pain relief. Meanwhile I wonder if Andrew Flintoff is taking pain relief from alcohol. The last time Flintoff was involved in winning a trophy off Australia, his alcohol intake was spectacular. I’m partial to a drop myself, but I have to admit I don’t think I could keep up with Freddy when he’s up for a drink.

Anyway, enough of vices. I asked in my previous post if Duncan Fletcher would have anything to do with the resurrection of English fortunes, and it turns out he did have a bit to say.

Whereas a matter of weeks ago England’s planning for the World Cup almost revolved around picking random names out of a hat, Fletcher now says there is a clear plan heading into the tournament.

“We’ve got a side that have won here and done very, very well and yet we are still missing people of the calibre of [Michael] Vaughan and [Kevin] Pietersen who are two very important players for us, so it’s still going to be very difficult for us [to narrow down the squad].”

“But we’re a lot clearer than we were at the start of this series. We really believe in the side now, four in a row is a great achievement and we’ve just got to continue with that momentum.”

Fletcher, himself, received a special mention as Andrew Flintoff relished his first success as captain. “The one person I really want to thank is Duncan Fletcher,” said Flintoff, “throughout the trip he has kept taking the knocks for us but he has kept backing us.”

While most of the plaudits will go to Paul Collingwood, and rightly so, I think that the emergence of Liam Plunkett also has a lot to do with the turnaround in England’s fortunes. And Monty Panesar has had a role to play too. He hasn’t taken a hatful of wickets, but he’s always kept things tight, and a good spinner is worth a fortune in any form of cricket.

Australia have got some thinking to do. They are in danger of losing their ranking as the best ODI side in the world to South Africa. To me the two issues are that Michael Hussey has lost his magic touch, as well as Symonds’ injury. Michael Clarke could do with some more runs as well. My own view was that White should have replaced Symonds as the batting allrounder. Instead, they’ve chosen Watson as a bowling allrounder, which is fine except that he’s barely had any cricket since the Champions trophy. Bringing him back for the finals smacked of hubris, and hubris gets punished.

My understanding is that Will will be returning from Kenya in the next few days, with plenty of photographs and hopefully some insider gossip about his adventures. For an Englishman’s perspective, be sure to read the Reverse Swing Manifesto (and speaking of which, why hasn’t Troy Cooley done us any good in the ODI’s?) In the meantime, I leave you with one final question before I drown my sorrows. What exactly is the Duckworth/Lewis algorithim? I once heard it described as being so complex as to make Einstein look like a bit of fun with an abacas, but even still!

A grotesque mismatch masked as an ODI

Coming into Friday’s game between Australia and England, for what surely must be the final time this summer, the contrast between the two squads could hardly be greater.

The Australians are happy, confident, and feel that everything is on track going towards the winning of the series and into the World Cup. England look patently miserable, tired, out of ideas, and with no appetitite for the battle. The contrast between this side and the one that won the Ashes eighteen months ago is so stark it can barely be believed.

England fans have every right to be furious with their team and especially their administration for allowing such a state of affairs.

They go into Friday’s game against Australia without Michael Vaughan, and also without James Anderson, who is flying home after a back strain. All of England’s bowling hopes will therefore rest with Flintoff and the redoubtable Monty Panesar, who looks like he’s the only Englishman with both the ability and the desire to play at this level at this point in time.

Meanwhile, Australia are feeling confident enough to introduce Shaun Tait to their one-day side, who is replacing Brett Lee. It is very much a ‘like for like’ substitution. Tait is perhaps even faster then Lee these days, and similarly erratic in performance. England faced him in the last two Tests of 2005, and also in the first game of this tour where he played in the Prime Minister’s XI. He did so well in that game that there was speculation that he would be the third seamer in the Test lineup, but Stuart Clark got the nod, and did so well that Tait’s hopes subsided.

Ricky Ponting has a slight hip strain and is in some doubt, but if he fails a fitness test, he’ll be replaced by the in-form Brad Hodge, who scored 115 off 100 balls for Victoria against South Australa on Wednesday.

A quick check of the bookies has some amazing prices. Not many betting houses are offering better then 10 to 1 on for Australia, whereas you can get odds of 13/2 on England. Remarkable, in a two horse race.