Monty Python - Bumble's Blog
By Jamie Hunt
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Sometimes comical, Monty Panesar's fielding is not always a laughing matter, says Bumble.
3rd npower Test
England v Sri Lanka
Live on Sky Sports 1 from Trent Bridge, June 02-06
Live commentary on skysports.com
BUMBLE'S BLOG - on SKYSPORTS.COM
England put in another solid performance at Edgbaston, where they did well to bowl Sri Lanka out twice.
With all the rain around it wasn't a bad toss to lose but then they bowled exceptionally well.
What was important was there was a six point swing in the catching stakes where they improved from about two of ten at Lord's to an eight out of ten performance in Birmingham. And they clung on to the important ones, which is the main thing.
Kevin Pietersen was the star of the show (again) with his exceptional first innings century. He truly is great to watch, a real box office smash of a player.
There have been criticisms of England, saying they have trouble finishing the game off and might have struggled had they been chasing 50 or 60 more.
Well, here are the facts. They weren't chasing 130, they needed 72 to win and got them. They are all 'what ifs' and 'maybes'. Had they needed another 80 or so, it would have been a real nail-biter and Murali would have taken a few more wickets but Sri Lanka didn't put the runs on the board and that was their problem.
Rather than take a critical view I would rather come at it from the opposite angle and say that we are in an excellent situation where, with no Steve Harmison, Simon Jones or Michael Vaughan, young talent such as Sajid Mahmood, Liam Plunkett and Alastair Cook have gained Test match experience and learned how to close out a match in difficult circumstances.
That has to be good news with the winter Ashes series looming large. With Harmison, Jones, Vaughan and Ashley Giles fit, those three and Monty Panesar would not have played and would now not have the valuable Test match experience that will stand them and England in good stead should they be required in Brisbane or Sydney later in the year.
It was another eventful Test match for Monty, who seems to have picked up a bit of a cult following.
I hope he accepts it in a fun sort of way but he must know that it will be different in Australia, if he goes there.
It is important for him to understand that this won't be the last time his fielding will come under the microscope and that he will be given a serious examination Down Under.
On the serious side of this issue, I can tell you that he is putting a lot of work in, and not just what you see out on the field before the match, but also behind closed doors with Duncan Fletcher and the England coaching staff.
There is only so much you can do in that session before play, in front of x amount of people, but away from that they will be looking to improve his anticipation and reflexes, encouraging him to have the mentality that the ball is coming to him every time.
I had a similar situation with Phil Tufnell, who contrary to popular belief, also worked hard on his fielding. He was that cheeky chappy figure but he became a quite proficient fielder. His feet were a bit 'ten to two', Charlie Chaplinesque, but he could do it.
The one thing that Monty can learn from Tuffers is the way he warmed to the attention. He enjoyed the adulation and the stick, and handled it well in Australia.
He was never shy of having a bit of banter with the crowd and that is the one thing that they love out there. The thing not to do is go the other way, and shy away. They will nail him for that, so he must take it as a bit of fun and get on with the job, and they'll take to him like they did to Tuffers.
You have to remember that nobody fields badly on purpose. The question is how far will the England management let it go before they say 'no more'. Monty has a beautiful bowling action, like Bishan Bedi, but Bish thought that batting was a hindrance.
However someone like Derek Underwood understood his obligation to the side; he would make himself into a night watchman. Technically, he was not a great batsman, but he was brave and would take a blow for his team and that is maybe something Monty could do for England.
I was doing an appraisal for a lad at Lancashire this year, and after he told me how many runs and hundreds he was going to score this season, I told him that his aim for the season was to run three people out. He sat back, surprised, but I told him again that I wanted him to throw three sets of stumps down this season.
All he would ever do was pick the ball up and throw it back to the bowler but I told him his team needed more from him than just runs, that his obligation to the team was great than that and it is something Monty could take on board.
I talk with Duncan Fletcher and I know he is working on it, but in a private way. Monty is never going to be Paul Collingwood in the field but he can get up to an acceptable level. Duncan will enjoy that challenge and, let's face it, that is what he is there for.
The good thing about Monty is that while he does look apprehensive in the field, when he gets the ball in his hands to bowl, the tension drains away and again at Edgbaston he bowled beautifully.
It just shows us what Giles brings to the team as a number eight batsman, a gully-fielder that catches well and someone who has a thunderous arm. Although Monty is a better bowler, you need the all round package that Giles offers.
Thanks for all of your suggestions on what SSWTB stood for on Matthew Hoggard's armguard. Many of them of course were unprintable. I think "Six Sixes With The Bat" could be wide of the mark for Hoggy, unless you mean over his career, and perhaps "Simon Says Watch The Ball" is more appropriate. We had a lot of fun making more up in the commentary box.
My weather reporting continues and some of you want to know why the infatuation with Reading? Well it started with the first report I did, which proved to be wrong of course, but let me explain why - it wasn't entirely my fault!
You might have seen the Betfair blimp flying above the ground at Lord's and in order for it to be allowed up there, they have to have a very precise weather forecast. If they don't get one, the blimp can't go up. They were told that rain would persist and then stop and then another band coming up through Reading, so I seized on it, used it and it turned out not to be true.
All of which means Reading is going to get a hammering from both me and the rain all through the summer. If it isn't raining in Reading right now, it should be and it will be soon.
We can tell from the email you send in to the commentary box that you all think it is a good laugh, so keep them coming - pull up a chair and keep the banter going.
On a final note with the weather, I agree with those of you that complain that no sooner have the players got out there from a rain stoppage that they go off for bad light. I adhere to an old, Bob Willis chestnut, that until it is downright dangerous, you play.
Write in and tell me if you are enjoying Cricket AM, because we are loving it! We are having a lot of fun, so watch out for more pitch reports, they're priceless!
Full Monty or King of Spain?
In your opinion do you think that Monty Panesar will ever surpass Ashley Giles to become England's number one spinner or will his inability with the bat affect the selector's minds?
BUMBLE SAYS: That last bit is the important bit. Will he get better with the bat and in the field and when will the selectors reach a cut-off point in terms of waiting for Monty. As you will have seen above, we can see now how valuable Giles is to England and I think he will return when fit. But Monty is a beautiful bowler and has time on his side to develop the other skills required. And another thing, Athers has watched him in the nets, and says he can bat, so there is hope for Monty.
Bumble the umpire
Bumble, I am still waiting for you to answer my question: Why do you and your fellow commentators fail to notice that so many batsmen are given out LBW by umpires when the ball has clearly pitched outside the off stump, when they have played a shot. Has this rule been changed? If not, why is this grave error of judgement by umpires allowed to continue unnoticed, or have we reached a point where nobody cares anymore? Mike Mitchell (Justice for Batsmen Campaigner).
BUMBLE SAYS: Mike, I think your question calls for a rule clarification here. When the ball pitches outside the off stump, the batsman CAN be given out, if it strikes the pad in line with the stumps and is going to hit them. If it hits him in line and is going to hit the wickets, it doesn't matter whether it pitched outside the off stump or if he played a shot, he is out. Those are the laws. If you mean pitching outside leg stump, then that is a different matter, because you can never be out LBW if the ball pitches outside leg stump.
Bumble explained - for the last time!
Why the nickname 'Bumble'? David Entwistle.
BUMBLE SAYS: Pay attention and tell all your mates because this is the last time I am answering this one. Many of you will not be old enough to remember them, but some of you will, back in the early 1960s there was a TV series created by Michael Bentine called the Bumblies. The Bumblies were caricatures, friendly little aliens from outer space that came down to earth to find about children on our planet - and I looked like one of them! There you go!