Practice the panacea for hapless Panesar

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The Independent Online

Monty Panesar would have been putting in extra fielding practice at Edgbaston this morning irrespective of the latest addition to his catalogue of howlers but will at least have gone to bed last night without a broadside from Liam Plunkett to haunt his dreams.

The Durham pace bowler is still young enough and optimistic enough about his Test career to forgive lapses by his team-mates, even when they are as embarrassing as the schoolboy error Panesar committed here yesterday.

The Northamptonshire left-arm spinner spilt the most routine of chances at mid-off. It would have sent Lasith Malinga back to the pavilion and left Sri Lanka on 84 for 9 with only Muttiah Muralitharan between Plunkett and a fifth wicket.

Plunkett had already suffered the frustration of seeing a slip catch snapped up by Andrew Flintoff from a no ball but at 21 clearly feels more possibilities await him.

"It would have been a great feeling to get a first five-for in a Test but I've not spoken to Monty about it.

"Monty does extra practice every day on his fielding and he works really hard. It was just one of those things. It was not to be today but, hopefully, there will be a chance in the future."

Should it be in this match it would greatly increase his chances of keeping his place once his Durham team-mate Steve Harmison is back in action but his confident demeanour suggests he is not worried unduly.

"I was a bit nervous at Lord's but here the nerves went fairly quickly, although it was a massive boost to get that first wicket.

"That wicket is important because it relaxes you and generally you go on to get a few more. It was one of those days when it went for me. I felt fairly loose before I bowled and it just came out in the right areas."

Wicketkeeper Kumar Sangakkara, Plunkett's third victim, said he was impressed by England's seam bowlers, but added that the Sri Lankans were disappointed with their performance. "England bowled well but we made them look more impressive," he said. "We may lack experience but there is enough quality and talent in our side to do much better than that."