The Realm’s England XI – 11. Monty Panesar

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We’re picking an England XI comprising the players we invested in the most.

Turns out we’ve latched onto quite a few England spinners in recent years. We have always loved Adil Rashid very, very much while Moeen Ali rather snuck his way into our affections and shows no sign of being shifted any time soon.

But then there’s Monty Panesar.

The Paleogene Period is a funny one. Spanning 43 million years from the end of the Cretaceous Period to the beginning of the Neogene Period, it’s the span of time no-one really gives a shit about because it’s right after the dinosaurs.

And indeed it does sound boring when you put it like that. But it isn’t. It isn’t at all.

Because the Paleogene Period followed the mass extinction of three-quarters of the plant and animal species on Earth, there were suddenly a lot of gaps in the ecosystem to be exploited. The species that survived consequently diverged into new forms and species at unprecedented speed. It was a mad, mad time.

It resulted in a whole bunch of animals that are still around today – horses, whales, bats and primates. However, there were also a whole load of other animals that had a fine old time for a few million years but then died out – sabre-toothed cats, woolly rhinoceroses and terror birds to name a few.

The period between England’s 2005 and 2010-11 Ashes wins was a bit like this. It brought us Stuart Broad and Alastair Cook, who stuck around and still remain at the very forefront of our cricket-consciousness, but it also gave us the likes of Ryan Sidebottom and Monty Panesar, who maybe aren’t.

Variously remembered as a terrible batsman, terrible fielder, terrible Mastermind contestant and one-dimensional bowler, Panesar was in fact a guy who spent much of that neither-one-thing-nor-the-other period accumulating five-fors like toilet roll at the outset of a coronavirus crisis.

Let’s draw some comparisons.

Moeen Ali has taken five five-wicket hauls, which is the same number as both Phil Tufnell and Ashley Giles.

If we turn to seam bowlers, Andrew Flintoff took three five-fors, Chris Woakes also has three and Ben Stokes has four.

A bit further up the list, Matthew Hoggard took seven, Steve Harmison took eight and Darren Gough took nine.

Over the course of his now somewhat overlooked Test career – almost none of which has made it onto the official ECB YouTube channel – Monty Panesar took 12 five-wicket hauls.

But it’s also worth remembering that even a single Panesar wicket was something to savour. Remember the grin, the run and the airborne five?

Monty Panesar was a Test cricketer whose success brought almost unparalleled joy.

13 comments

  1. The thing about Monty was that, whilst he was very good at one aspect of cricket, his skill at some of the other aspects was… more lacking.

    In many contexts, this is not considered a positive, however it is one of the joys of sport to see someone who typically is allowed to operate within their ‘comfort zone’ or area of specialism thrust into an unfamiliar role, often with hilarious results.

    This can be seen when a Number 11 has to bat, or when an outfield footballer has to go in goal, or when an American League pitcher has to bat and run during a game at a National League team in baseball.

    Monty provided this level of entertainment pretty much every time he played a Test. This, as well as his bowling and his general enthusiasm, was a big part of his appeal.

    1. Wise words. People sometimes talk as if elite sport would be better if everyone taking part were even more skilful. Cricket repeatedly disproves this because it is never more entertaining than when someone entirely non-elite is forced to try and counter others’ brilliance. E.g. a number 11 batsman.

  2. I really, really, really wouldn’t have twigged that 12 fivefers stat had you not just unceremoniously nutted me with that fact, KC.

    A choice morsel in the “assorted snacks and nibbles” buffet that is the KC website.

    My abiding memory of him is the batting partnership with Jimmy to save the Cardiff Ashes test in 2009. It was far and away his most important Ashes contribution; it probably set up that series for England.

    Monty’s his fivefer in the first innings at Perth in late 2006 was exceptional and should have been series defining, but for the inconvenient fact that something or other must have happened in Adelaide the match before…I forget…and likewise I forget what happened in Perth after Monty & Co rolled the Aussies for less than 250 first dig.

    I was hoping for Monty in this slot and I’m glad we got him. I do hope Moeen is the 12th man though. It’s the least you can do.

  3. This has nothing to do with this post. It has to do with the post about Mumbai Indians that you have pinned to the top. I had a comment about why doctors were looking on while the MI players were playing table tennis. As is my wont with any fresh piece of wisdom(?), I eagerly scrolled down to share this burning question/comment (I don’t remember which one now) with y’all. But I was shut out. Like a pariah. It was like a sensible person trying to go to a Trump rally – I was not let in. “Comments are closed”, it said, “We don’t let your kind in”.

    Twelve years. Twelve years I have been on these pages.

    1. It’s nothing personal. We thought comments reopened when we brought old posts back but apparently we can’t fully reanimate the dead.

  4. Monty Panesar has as many five-wicket hauls as Mitchell Johnson and Shoaib Akhtar. He’s also got as many 10-wicket hauls as Andy Caddick, Steve Harmison, Jacques Kallis, Freddie Flintoff, Brett Lee, Bob Willis and Morne Morkel – combined.

    Is he veering into ‘criminally underrated’ territory?

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