It was interesting to see Monty Panesar bowling to the West Indies today, day 3 of the first test. Sure, this West Indies team does not possess the most frightening batting lineup in the world, but it was a great spell nevertheless. But the beauty of Monty’s bowling was the lack of variety. Just take a look at the tea-time scorecard.
C H Gayle b L E Plunkett 30
D Ganga lbw b M S Panesar 49
D S Smith b M S Panesar 21
R R Sarwan lbw b M S Panesar 35
S Chanderpaul not out 26
R S Morton lbw b M S Panesar 14
D J Bravo not out 14
Extras (2nb 14w 12lb) 28
Total (for 5 wickets) 217 (59.0 overs)
Plunkett set things going by sending Gayle’s off stump for a long walk. And Monty began as in a dream, bowling Smith with his first ball – a straight one that Smith played for the turn. But things got only better for Monty. He just kept bowling the arm ball – and what a golden arm it turned out to be today! All three batsmen who fell leg before to him, Ganga, Sarwan and Morton, were dismissed by arm balls, thrusting their pads in front of their bats. And there were a few more shouts of other arm balls as well. One of them almost went from Morton’s bat on to his boots before settling into the hands of the fielder at silly point.
A lot has been made about variety in bowling. But Monty today demonstrated that sticking to sameness can produce results as well. It’s a lesson Sir Richard Hadlee, Glenn McGrath and Shaun Pollock have demonstrated endlessly. Monty’s spell was one more lesson on the virtues of monotony.