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Exclusive: R Ashwin should be India's first-choice spinner in New Zealand; Jadeja needs to up his game: Monty Panesar

New Delhi, Dec 16: England spinner Monty Panesar has some very fine memories of playing Test cricket against India. The left-arm spinner of Indian origin made his Test debut against India in Nagpur in 2006 and had Sachin Tendulkar as his first Test victim. He was also was one of the key members of the English side that defeated India in India during the 2012-13 Test series, which the Three Lions won 2-1.

The 37-year-old former Northamptonshire and Sussex cricketer is currently without a county cricket side but his hopes of making it to the England national side aren't dead.

The chinaman who is in India to promote his autobiography 'Monty Panesar - The Full Monty' in an exclusive chat with MyKhel, during the Ekamra Sports Lit Fest in New Delhi, talked at length about the quality of spin attack the current Indian side has, threw his insights on the debate of wrist-spin versus finger-spin; and what ails Kuldeep Yadav, who has had a terrible 2019.

The 'Sikh of the tweak', who has picked up 167 wickets in 50 Tests for England, also talked about the future of Test cricket and how BCCI president Sourav Ganguly is working on saving it.

Here are the excerpts:

Mykhel: Are you happy with India's spin attack across formats?

Monty Panesar: Yeah, India has got a brilliant spin attack and the quality is very good. Ravindra Jadeja is representing the flag for the Gujaratis in India who is doing brilliant for them and I think he's a brilliant left-arm spinner.

MK: What are your thoughts about R Ashwin and why he hasn't been able to replicate his success that he achieved a couple of years ago?

Monty: I remember Ashwin talking about his spin bowling relative to like technology and he's doing well. I think it's time for Ravindra Jadeja to upgrade his skills because if he keeps performing the way he is, he may not be as effective in a couple of years. So, Jadeja needs an update.

MK: Should India play more with the wrist-spin duo of Yuzvendra Chahal and Kuldeep Yadav more in limited-overs? Do you think the wrist-spinners have been exposed and now the teams are going back to playing finger spinners, the latest example could be of Kuldeep getting benched after he was taken to the cleaners this year?

Monty: Look, I think finger-spinners, in the long term, play a huge role. So Virat Kohli would always go to the likes of Ravindra Jadeja and Ravichandra Ashwin because they provide control and in India, I think, finger-spinners tend to be more successful than the wrist-spinners due of the pitch conditions because they (wrist-spinners) can't get much pace on the ball, they're slightly slower and they don't get many revs (revolutions) on it. But on a slower pitch, the ball kind of sits up a little bit and you've got to really bowl into the pitch as wrist-spinner, but a finger spinner could impart spin, get good pace on it. So yeah, in ODIs and T20 cricket a wrist-spinner definitely has a huge future in India. For Test cricket, I think Virat Kohli has the combination right to go with finger-spin and possibly bring in a wrist-spinner to give them (Jadeja-Ashwin) some respite. But you know, you want to see a chinaman and googlies because that brings a variety.

MK: What according to you is the reason behind the dip in Kuldeep's form?

Monty: I think he lost his hang time. Whenever I watched him bowl, I saw a slight hang he used to have in his flight (before he released the ball) and it used to hover there and people couldn't read it. I think he's lost that. He's probably trying to bowl quicker in the air. When he used to hang there and the ball accelerates off the pitch, that was his strength.

MK: Ashwin or Jadeja? Who do you reckon India should include in the Playing XI during the Test matches in New Zealand?

Monty: It's a good question because you tend to ask this question before deciding the squad that does New Zealand play Ashwin better or Jadeja? In my opinion, they should go with Ashwin because he bowls off-spin and he bowls round-the-wicket and he's a bit uncanny isn't he? Yeah. He's a very cunning operator and he sets them up. While Jadeja can be one-dimensional. Also, it depends on the seamers, how are the Indian seamers performing in New Zealand and they do well then you can go with Jadeja. Or you can play two (spinners) Jadeja and Ashwin and play Jadeja at number six, that's another option you can have. It's good to be Virat Kohli at the moment because he has so many options with him.

MK: Should there be a format specific spinners in cricket?

Monty: Yeah, I think so. You can play wrist-spinners in T20s and ODIs and in Test cricket, yeah, you have finger spinners more and if there's a turning pitch you add a wrist-spinner in the side.

MK: Why the batsmen these days are not playing the spinners well?

Monty: I think it is broadly because we are playing a lot of cricket nowadays and playing too many games you are constantly chopping and changing your plans. And with the introduction of left-arm seamers, which is a lot more than what it used to be, the batsmen have to adjust a lot, playing right-arm seamers, then adjusting to the left-arm seamers; introduction of wrist-spin, countering leg-spinners. So all that is making it tough for the batsmen to adjust and focus.

MK: When England last arrived on Indian shores in 2015, they lost the Test series badly. Do you think England will pose some challenges to the Indians on their next tour?

Monty: Look, for any team coming to India you need to have a couple of batsmen who can score quickly for that allows the team some time. And also the spinners, they've got to take wickets quickly. You've to try and bowl the Indian side out under 300 in India (to tighten your grip on the match). Even when I am saying that it seems an impossible task, but that's what you've got to do. That's the only way you can beat India in India.

MK: To do well in India, you need to have good spinners. When you guys won the Test series in India back in 2012, it was the likes of you and Graeme Swann who were the wreckers in chief. But I could hardly find any quality spinners in the current England side. Who do you think could be the next good spinner from England?

Monty: Well, I am going to try and see if I can make a comeback in cricket. So next year, I'll try and play for Northamptonshire and check if I am a cricket fit. And yeah, it could be a dream come true if I could play domestic cricket next year and then I could get a nice little call (from the board) and tour to India. Yeah, I'd love that to happen.

MK: What is the future of Test cricket according to you? Also, we have seen a spike in the number of matches getting finished within three days and there have been proponents of the idea that Test cricket should be reduced to 4 days.

Monty: I think the BCCI is addressing it and this what Sourav Ganguly has addressed. I have been strong advocators of the idea that ex-cricketers should be the administrators of the game. And in my opinion, Sourav Ganguly, the president of the BCCI, is the most powerful man in cricket in the world. He's brought Day-Night Test cricket in India and that emerged as a success. He's thinking about prolonging the Test cricket like it used to be back in the '80s and '90s. He knows that we need to save Test cricket and if Test cricket is going into the fourth and fifth day in India then India are doing their bit to save the format. If Test cricket is strong in India then it will be strong in the world and yes, we need to go Test cricket to go into the fourth and fifth day like it used to be in the past.

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Story first published: Monday, December 16, 2019, 15:36 [IST]
Other articles published on Dec 16, 2019
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