Monty Panesar’s England team-mates will always be happy to embrace his eccentricities – because they know he is a potential match-winner on pitches like the Adelaide Oval.
Panesar was recalled to the line-up for the first time in an Ashes match since July 2009, and provided plenty of evidence on day one that he can help England’s bid to battle back from 1-0 down.
Graeme Swann has known his spin twin since their formative years at Northamptonshire and, after they had shared two of the wickets in Australia’s 273-5, he stressed how much he enjoys the partnership.
Panesar’s return to Test cricket is not without its controversy after his errant behaviour off the pitch last summer when he was arrested for urinating on nightclub bouncers in Brighton, subsequently released by Sussex and not considered for the final Ashes Test at The Oval.
When conditions are in his favour, however, he has a world-class ability – as he showed last winter when he took 11 wickets in Mumbai, sharing 19 of the 20 to fall with Swann, as England beat India.
That came after a wide-margin defeat in the first Test, prefacing a famous series victory, and England are surely hoping Panesar can help to pull off the same trick again after losing their Ashes opener in Brisbane by 381 runs.
England’s gains in Adelaide were hard-earned and compromised by three dropped chances but, after Australia won the toss, they could still be pleased to have eked out half the team.
“I thought his bowling was excellent,” Swann said of Panesar.
“It’s never easy coming back into a team because obviously a lot of spotlight goes on you – a lot of expectation.
“I thought he applied himself really well.”
Panesar bowled Steve Smith with a ball which turned, from round the wicket, to complete a sequence of three wickets for 19 runs just before tea.
“It was a beauty to get his wicket and he could have had two by the end, which was unfortunate,” Swann added.
“He did the job we wanted him to do.
“That’s all Monty ever does. He just turns up and plays his normal game.”
Swann did not expect quite so much assistance for him and Panesar so early in the match and is delighted to have their pairing restored.
“I love it when two spinners play. It’s how all cricket should be played, a minimum of two spinners per team and slow, low turning wickets,” he said with a smile.
“I loved it. It was great.
“I hope the fact we’ve got two spinners in our team gives us a big advantage.”