Former spinner questions Dalrymple~~s inclusion

Published: Wednesday, July 26, 2006, 23:53 [IST]
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London:All-rounder Jamie Dalrymple's selection at the cost of Monty Panesar for England's second Test against Pakistan has triggered a debate with former spinner Pat Pocock criticising the move.

The former England spinner, who took 1,607 first-class wickets, wrote in The Guardian that no Test team can do away with a genuine spinner and the hosts are no exception.

''...after the coin goes up at Test match level the only way to win a game if you bat first is to take 20 wickets. So when you pick an attack to do the job you must have a front-line spinner. You cannot go into a Test with someone who is a bits-and-pieces spinner,'' he said.

He in fact went on to say that England, in fact, could have accommodated both.

''I would play a spinner on every wicket if it is going to give the bowler any help at all. I might even play two, especially given the very dry conditions at present. I would also pick Monty Panesar in the side. We have just played a Test against Pakistan and, if we'd had two spinners in the side, we would have won the match.

''In a Test we need a variety to the attack, especially on the last day when the ball starts to turn and a good spinner becomes invaluable to the team. If you discount Muttiah Muralitharan and Shane Warne, who are the best in the world, then good spinners like Anil Kumble, Harbhajan Singh and Daniel Vettori are integral members of their national sides,'' he argued.

He admitted Dalrymple's batting gives him a clear edge over Panesar but that shouldn't have been the sole yardstick.

''Panesar is not known for his batting or fielding but we have had spinners for years and years who have batted only a little. I was not seen as a batsman, nor were John Emburey or Phil Edmonds.

You have to go back as far as Fred Titmus, who scored 21,500 runs in first-class cricket as well as taking more than 2,800 wickets, and Raymond Illingworth to find spinners who were real all-rounders,'' he reasoned.

Former spinner and Middlesex coach John Emburey, however, begs to differ.

''In the current situation England need a bowler who can score runs. The tail is looking a little long at the moment...The ideal would be to have three outstanding bowlers who can also bat; it is no bad thing that someone like Middlesex's Jamie Dalrymple is in the England squad. He is bowling very well at the moment and could become a match-winner. He has always been a very good fielder and a more than capable batsman,'' he said of his ward.

''It will give the side a little bit more depth and quality to the batting that they may have been lacking. Everyone goes on about the wicketkeeper needing to be able to bat but there is no reason why a bowler cannot fulfil that role.

''Jamie's bowling has improved immensely over the past year.

However, it is important to remember that we bowl on very flat wickets at Lord's. Jamie's figures do not match because in the past Panesar has bowled on wickets that give some assistance at Northampton,'' he said.

''If a bowler is good enough, then he should be in the team. But you have to look at the overall balance. The England coach Duncan Fletcher does like multi-dimensional cricketers: batsmen who are very good in the field, bowlers who can score runs lower down the order. There is no denying that can be very important.

''If you make mistakes, such as dropping an important catch in a Test, then someone may go on to make a big score and win the game.

Similarly there is an importance to having depth in your batting,'' he said, with an oblique reference to Panesar's poor fielding and batting.

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