Panesar goes back to basics
Monty Panesar will go back to bowling "naturally" as he tries to force his way back into the England side for next week’s npower Ashes opener at Cardiff.
The left-arm spinner was left out of the side for the home series victory over West Indies earlier this summer, but his inclusion in England’s team to play against Warwickshire on Wednesday indicates that he could be in contention for a starting berth in the Welsh capital.
But the 27-year-old is well aware his county statistics so far this season hardly present a compelling case for him to be paired with his fellow finger spinner Graeme Swann.
Panesar has taken just six first-class wickets at more than 86 each for Northamptonshire this summer.
But he believes he has learned some valuable lessons since he last appeared for his country, against West Indies in Trinidad almost four months ago.
"You can’t hide facts. I’ve kind of struggled at the start of the season," said Panesar.
"You get a lot of well-meaning advice. But sometimes there is too much of it; you get confused, and then self-doubt can creep in - and confidence becomes an issue.
"But clearing your mind of that is a skill. It’s been a learning curve, and I hope that will help me this week."
Asked whether he feels ready for the centre stage of an Ashes Test, Panesar identified the next three days as an acid test for his ‘back-to-basics’ formula.
"I will know this week," he said. "It’s a big week, and I know I’ll be looking to bowl as I naturally do best. It’s not the right time to be experimenting.
"I was trying to experiment with my variation of pace and other lengths - and I would love to have loads of wickets under my belt. But things haven’t gone as planned.
"The recent months haven’t been as I would have liked. But this current situation gives me the opportunity to rise to the challenge - and reconnect with what I do naturally."
Panesar believes the patient, repetitive style which carried him into Test cricket in the first place can be a friend again - rather than allowing himself to be sidetracked by notions about flight and guile.
He accepts those variations have their place in the armoury of a world-class slow bowler but nonetheless believes his skills are programmed for success on home turf.
"I’ve got to trust myself to go back to my natural bowling style, my strength - of bowling lots of overs at a certain pace and lots of maidens," he prescribed.
"My kind of pace suits English conditions. I’m going to get one to bite quickly and turn here. But when you go to the sub-continent or elsewhere on slightly slower wickets, that is maybe when you need to experiment a bit more.
"I’ve had to understand that for my development to go any further I’ve had to maybe take a backward step - to go forward for the medium and the long term."