Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Now I've Got My Big Chance, Says Monty

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cricket: Now I've Got My Big Chance, Says Monty

Article excerpt

Byline: By Myles Hodgson

MONTY Panesar is determined to justify the public's faith by using the next three days of cricket to force his way into England's Ashes series thinking.

Northamptonshire's left-arm spinner became such a cult hero with England's cricket fans last summer that he has been nominated for the BBC's Sports Personality of the Year award won last year by current captain Andrew Flintoff.

His popularity with the public, however, has not ensured his selection for the opening two Ashes Tests and despite an encouraging return of 32 wickets in his first 10 Tests, England preferred Ashley Giles as their spin option in Brisbane and Adelaide.

But Panesar now has the chance to impress Flintoff and coach Duncan Fletcher during the next three days when he is expected to feature in the traditional one-day match at Lilac Hill against the Chairman's XI and the two-day match over the weekend against Western Australia.

"We've got the warm-up games coming up so there's a chance for me to put my name in the hat," said Panesar.

"If I bowl well then hopefully the captain and the coach will take notice so I guess it's up to me to try and bowl well and give myself a good chance.

"It's very disappointing that I didn't get the chance to play in the first two Test matches, but you have to back the captain and the coach and the XI that's out there and help out as much as you can with the off-field stuff."

So rather than build on a promising start to his career by testing himself against Australia, Panesar has instead concentrated on serrying drinks as 12th man and end-less practice in the nets. In his absence the tourists have slumped to defeats in both the first two Tests and, to retain the Ashes, they will need to become the first England team in history to overcome a two-Test deficit.

Most of the consternation from home has been directed towards Fletcher, who many blame for the absence of Panesar, with phone-ins being dominated with talk about the reasons for Giles' selection ahead of him. …

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