Look to Monty
Mark Butcher believes England need to show more faith in Monty Panesar as a wicket-taking bowler.
Last Updated: 05/12/07 3:07pm
Mark Butcher believes that England missed a trick by delaying the introduction of Monty Panesar into the attack on the fourth day.
England fell to an 88 run defeat in the first Test against Sri Lanka as the brave and determined Ian Bell and Matt Prior finally succumbed to Muttiah Murlitharan in the final session.
Murali had subsequently bowled 32 wicket-less overs in the second innings until the new ball was taken.
He then dismissed Prior, Bell and Ryan Sidebottom in the space of 15 delivberies.
Former England opener, Butcher believes that there were two crucial periods in the match that swung it for the home team.
"I'd probably go back to the second day when England were 132-2 with [Kevin] Pietersen and [Ian] Bell going very well," said Butcher.
"And then, perhaps due to over-confidence, Bell got himself out and a very iffy lbw decision given against Pietersen and suddenly Sri Lanka rushed through the door.
"England let an advantage that they'd earned - that Matthew Hoggard had earned them with his four-for in the first innings - slip and allowed Sri Lanka back into the game.
"OK, England managed to get a first innings lead of 100 but in the position they were in they would have wanted 150-200. From that moment on, the game swung back in Sri Lanka's favour.
"And at home, in conditions they know so well they weren't going to let that slip.
"You just suddenly saw the game change. The new ball came out and they gave Muralitharan the ball after five or six overs and he was able to spin the ball hard and get results out of what was a very slow and lifeless pitch."
The second turning point came on the fourth day as Butcher was disappointed that Michael Vaughan didn't introduce Panesar into the attack much sooner than he did.
"The trick that England missed on the fourth day not giving the ball - when it was harder and newer - to Monty," continued Butcher.
"Especially at a stage in the game when Sri Lanka had two batsmen in there who had to start again after a break in play.
"That allowed them to literally do as they pleased for an hour or so before Monty was brought into the game - by which time the ball wasn't hard. We saw it in England's second innings that Murali was ineffective when the ball has lost its hardness.
"That's something England can take on board going into the second Test. They need to give Monty more of an opportunity to make an impact."
Ex-England spinner, Robert Croft agreed with his former England team mate.
"We don't want to see the first real out and out wicket taking spinner that England have developed for some time become a stock bowler from one end," said Croft.
"It's important that he keeps that wicket taking mentality about himself and also as a bowler you need feedback and to feel that your captain really backs you and realise situations where he will say 'hang on a, minute now, this is my wicket taker'.
"There's not doubt that Monty Panesar should have started bowling yesterday and there's no doubt if this goes on for a period of time he will start to feel negative."