Left field

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England to play Panesar? Another batter more like

January 20, 2012

The fallout from England’s crushing first-test defeat by Pakistan has led many pundits to call for Monty Panesar to play as a second spinner in next week’s second test, despite the fact it was the batsmen and not the bowlers who failed to turn up for the world’s top-ranked test side.

Number 11 Panesar may have performed heroics with the bat in Cardiff to save the first Ashes test in 2009 but the Pakistan bowlers will hardly be quaking in their boots. Including Panesar would seemingly mean dropping seamer Chris Tremlett, who did not get a wicket in Dubai but still bowled decently. England getting Pakistan down to 289-8 having only scored 192 first up themselves was a good effort from the England attack.

There has been talk of Ravi Bopara coming in instead to bolster the batting and bowling but the all-rounder has always struggled to impose himself on tests when the pressure is on. Being one down in a three-test series in unfamiliar surroundings really is pressure. Yes the injured Tim Bresnan brought runs down the order but so do Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann. Dropping Tremlett for Bopara would be a risky move.

While rising to number one in the world, England have recovered from sudden setbacks well, such as the defeat in Perth on their way to winning the Ashes in Australia at the turn of 2010/11.

Coach Andy Flower said the side were “undercooked” for the Pakistan test series having not played the longer form of the game since the final India test in August. So much for there being too much cricket….

All the pointers from how Flower has run this England side suggests they will go in to the Abu Dhabi test with exactly the same 11.

The batters were bamboozled by Saeed Ajmal in Dubai, not the pitch. It was not doing too much and they don’t expect Abu Dhabi to either. So why bring in Panesar?

Time in the nets, especially with spin machine Merlin, is the best course of action for England. Cook and Pietersen et al cannot surely fail so spectacularly again given their form over the past 18 months.

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