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Cricketers Speak: 5 Questions with Cricket World: When Moeen Ali first came in, I thought I would get a go soon - Monty Panesar

England's Monty Panesar signs autographs for fans
©Reuters

Former England spinner Monty Panesar talks to Cricket World about what he could have achieved in his career, the time he dismissed Sachin Tendulkar and Moeen Ali's off-spin skills when he first came in.

As soon as you saw a wide-eyed Monty Panesar making his Test debut against India in Nagpur in 2006, you new the lad had something going for him. Panesar dismissed Sachin Tendulkar, his first Test wicket, and set off for a crazy celebration. He may have taken just three wickets in that game, but apart from Tendulkar, he dismissed Mohammad Kaif, India's top scorer in the first innings and Rahul Dravid, with both losing their stumps.

In 2012, Panesar returned to India and joined hands with old Northants teammate Graeme Swann to bag 19 wickets, making it only the fourth occasion when England spinners had combined to take 19 wickets or more wickets in a Test and for the first time in 54 years. This substantiated their comparisons with England's best pair of spinners Jim Laker and Tony Lock in the 1950s.

Apart from his magic in Mumbai when he picked 11/210, some of Monty's most remembered performances are 8/93 against Pakistan at Manchester in 2006 and 10/187 against West Indies, again at Manchester, in 2007. But, discipline issues and waning form, did not allow him to realise his full potential.

 

Here's what Monty Panesar had to say as we caught up with him for our new series, 5 Questions with Cricket World:

 

Q: With matches to be staged behind closed doors post resumption, will Test cricket be the least effected among the three formats?

 

A: It's going to feel strange, because some of the players love to play in front of crowds, other's don't as much. But as long as it's live sport on TV, I think that is what that matters. The main thing at the moment is that people are all at home, they are getting bored, they want to watch live sport, and they can't wait.

 

Q: Do you feel that you should have made the England spot your own after Swann's retirement?

 

A: Yes, I should have made my spot. That was my opportunity, when Greame Swann retired. I think what happened was for one of the games against Glamorgan, I was playing for Essex, I overslept. 

When I reached the ground, James Foster looked at me and he was so angry. I think he wanted to kill me. He said, 'I can't handle this. I can't play you, that's it' and I haven't played after that and then they picked Moeen Ali instead of me.

 

Q: And, Moeen did quite well, didn't he?

 

I thought he is only a part-time spinner. I am probably going to get a go after a few months when I start bowling well again but he turned into a good off-spinner and I had no chance after that.

Joe Root was a better off-spinner than him when Ali first came in but then he really worked hard. Credit to him, he has made himself into a good off-spinner and he is really good now in all forms. So, you know, my mistakes became opportunities for someone else.

 

 

Q: The end may not have been ideal, but the start was excellent. Tendulkar's dismissal in Nagpur on debut, couldn't have asked for a better start, right?

 

A: Yeah, that was the best start. I should probably have retired after that. It's Paul Gascoigne's birthday today (May 27) and he scored a free kick against Arsenal in 1991 in the final and you should see how he celebrates. I watched that video and I thought about how I celebrated after taking Sachin Tendulkar's wicket.

People celebrate because it's a reflection on Sachin Tendulkar. If I would have dismissed a number 11, I probably would have just gone to the umpire and said can I have my cap please and walked off the field. So, I was celebrating his wicket but it was an indirect celebration of Sachin Tendulkar. When you get him, it's a great euphoric experience of getting his wicket. The greater the player, the more you celebrate because of how good they are.

 

Q: You had England fans all excited, especially after the heroics in India in 2012. Any regrets of not realizing your potential as an international cricketer?

 

Look, I probably should have played another 20-30 Test matches, between 70 to 100 Test matches [he played 50]. I should have had about 250 to 300 Test wickets [he took 167], then I would have reached my potential.

I was once speaking to Rahul Dravid and I asked him how many Test matches do you reckon I can play. He goes, 'you can play 100 Test matches, your are that good'.

 

For more such interviews, jump to our new series: 5 Questions With Cricket World

 

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