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Why England won't pick Panesar

November 16th 2012 18:31
Just two days into the Test series and England are looking into the abyss. The touring bowlers have already faced some real treatment from the home batsman.

Jimmy Anderson was the only seam bowler guaranteed to play in this game, due to the injuries that occurred to Stuart Broad and Steven Finn in the warm up matches. Tim Bresnan managed to earn his place by consistently taking wickets in the warm ups. Broad managed to pass a fitness test early in the week, enabling him to play, even though not at full fitness. Finn was unable to recover in time, but his drinks carrying abilities makes it almost certain that he will be back for the next game.

The first Test in Ahmedabad is taking place on a flat, slow pitch that makes run scoring easier than wicket taking. Anderson, Broad and Bresnan have all been played easily by the Indians, as they donít have enough pace to trouble them. The tourists are really missing the sheer wheels of Steven Finn, as he wouldíve been able to cause some real problems at the top of the Indian innings. When the ball isnít swinging and Finn isnít playing England are short of that wicket taking spark from their seamers. When he is fit he has to be in the team, this means that Tim Bresnan will have to go, unless Stuart Broad canít come through his injury pains.

Spin bowling has been Englandís only solace, but even the wicket taking ability of spin has only come from one person, Graeme Swann. Samit Patel was selected to be Englandís second spinner but from his first ball you could tell that he wasnít going to be doing enough to cause problems to the spin playing masters that are the Indian batsmen. He was given the ball just before lunch on day 1, and his slow, leg stump full toss, was rightly dispatched over mid-wicket for four. He did take the wicket of Yuvraj Singh, but this was with another full toss. When one spinner takes 5 wickets, you would expect the other spinner to be causing problems himself, and adding to his own wickets column. All three of Englandís wickets to fall so far, have gone to spin, and this in itself speaks volumes about Samit Patelís ability with the ball.

Many cricket experts had called for Monty Panesar to be selected for the First Test, these names included Rahul Dravid who said that,

Ď"Monty has bowled well in India in the past and can keep one end tight so I would like him to play."

However, I believe that if Steve Finn does play in the next Test, then Samit Patel will keep his place. This is because I see England as too regimented in the makeup of their team, and the balance of the line-up. Dropping Patel and Bresnan will upset the balance of the side, as they will lose a pair of good all-round cricketers, for a pair of bowlers who wonít offer the extra runs with the bat. I expect the inclusion of Finn will be more important to the tourists, and thus they will stick with Patel for his batting abilities. This theory will be backed up by the fact that, in this Test, England have already faltered with the bat, and the selectors will feel that the batting of Patel is necessary in the team. I think the right choice is to drop Stuart Broad, and replacing him with Finn will mean the bowling potency is improved and the batting is better with Bresnan. Then I would also replace Patel with Panesar because we need a pair of quality spinners, if we are to disrupt the freedom and run scoring of the hosts.

1st Test Match, England vs India

India 521/8 dec. Sehwag 117 Pujara 206* Swann 5-144

England 41/3 Cook 22* Ashwin 2/21

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