ASHES: Genius Monty not just clowning around

England gambled on two spinners in an effort to conjure a result in Adelaide, turning to a bowler who has been both a brilliant performer and a figure of fun at different times in his career.

So it proved for Monty Panesar on a day of mixed fortunes after he wasrecalled to partner Graeme Swann for the second Test.

All in one day, Panesar produced a touch of genius to dismiss Steve Smith, lived up to his reputation as a hapless fielder with a missed return catch to spare George Bailey, and was mocked in a photo tweeted and subsequently deleted by Cricket Australia.

When Australia won the toss, England’s decision to pick two spinners for a Test in Australia for the first time since 1991 seemed even more of a risk. 

But there was just enough early life in the new drop-in pitch to keep the bowlers in the game, and just enough success for the spinners to suggest it could pay dividends.

Panesar’s selection for the Adelaide Test, along with New Zealand-born all-rounder Ben Stokes, was a surprise, with workhorse Tim Bresnan considered a safer bet.

But soon after lunch on a drizzly first day on a pitch offering only a touch of slow turn, the two spinners were bowling in tandem.

Before tea, England captain Alastair Cook brought Panesar back into the attack for right-handers Michael Clarke and Steve Smith.

Panesar bowled Smith with a beautiful ball that pitched on middle and took off stump.

Australia lost three wickets in the patch before tea, but Panesar found the going tougher after the break.

A dropped catch off his bowling three overs before stumps gave Brad Haddin a life and could yet be a defining moment in the match.

“Monty is Monty,” said Swann. “He’s always been a bit left field.”

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