Sunday, March 4, 2007

The Bounce of Panesar - Zephirine

When Monty Panesar gets a wicket he leaps in the air. He does it every time. Usually he seems to reach about eighteen inches off the ground, but at particularly key moments he’s definitely clearing two feet. The leap is always accompanied by an immense smile and, increasingly, a double high-five with whichever of his team-mates is, as it were, to hand. The whole brief explosion is an irresistible combination of athleticism and glee.

Sportsmen and women being brands these days, the trademark celebration is a familiar sight, ranging from the showing-off-but-fun (Frankie Dettori jumping off his horse) through the OK-if-you-must-but-a-bit stupid-really (the Adebayor/Henry little dance) to the downright nauseating (that two-handed wave of Kournikova’s which used to make my slapping hand itch). No doubt aspiring athletes devise their own celebration, just as all actors have their Oscar acceptance speech rehearsed and ready. Yet the Panesar bounce, even though we’ve seen it often now, still seems spontaneous and genuine.

It’s part of the package: there’s just something about the guy out on a cricket pitch that gladdens the heart. He loves his cricket, and you feel he always will. Of course he’ll have bad times, losses of form, personal problems, injuries (God forbid), but you know that the day Monty Panesar gets cynical the game will be in serious trouble.

But don’t think for a moment that I’m suggesting Panesar is merely some kind of simple, lovable, boyish enthusiast - obviously he’s a whole lot more than that. He’s known to take his religion seriously; I understand that in Sikhism self-respect, hard work and personal honour are highly valued while turning the other cheek doesn’t come into it much at all. This is a fighting man of outstanding talent who badly wants to win. It’ll be interesting in coming years to see how he combines with Flintoff, another alpha male with a deliberately unpretentious manner - symbiosis or rivalry?

Glenn McGrath owns the turf because he’s f**king earned it, thank you very much, but Shane Warne owns the turf because ‘the scriptwriter’ has given it to him for a playground, and no nightclub, no blonde, no naughty substance will ever, ever be as much fun. On the surface Warne and Panesar couldn’t be more different, but the crested larrikin and the leaping Sikh share that same wicked joy in destroying their opponent…. the smile on the face of the tiger.

13 comments:

MotM said...

I love it - you've got to the heart of the appeal (in both senses) of Monty and set it within his dedication and skill. There is so much to admire in Monty and it'll be hard for him to keep the story going - but if anyone can, he can.

The players who connect most to my kids are Monty and Andrew Symonds. I think it's because they take such obvious pleasure in the game and are so demonstrative in their actions, but seldom in a showy way, always as an extension of the energy they bring to their games.

Whilst I may prefer to watch the sublime VVS Laxman or wallow in the re-runs of Holding and Roberts from 1976, I enjoy Monty in a completely different way.

Aussieoi has touted, ad nauseum, Monty for captain, and I'll be surprised if he doesn't captain England at some point in the future. Who wouldn't be inspired by him? And he has a sharp cricketing brain already. Just needs a little more expansive approach to the Press, but that'll come with experience and maturity.

andrewm said...

Am I the only cricket follower who doesn't like Monty?

It may be - it almost certainly is - because I'm a pessimistic and deeply cynical person, but I like my sportsmen and women to be pissed off at all times until the moment of absolute victory.

I can't identify with happy people :)

Zephirine said...

Thanks Mouth, glad you enjoyed it. I only hope Monty doesn't get too much of the tabloid 'build 'em up, tear 'em down' treatment...

Andrewm, I feel that way about Nixon, too cheery by half!

MotM said...

Guys - What about Derek Randall? Happy as Larry whilst Lillee and Thomson were trying to knock his head off.

Colin Croft would scowl through a series clinching hat-trick.

Give me Monty and Arkle every time!

marcela said...

i don't like cricket - i don't even love it - and i certainly don't understand it. but this was a joy to read. really succint depiction of monty and i really like the notion of sportsfolk as brands and their celebrations being therefore, brand token too. excellent.
would never have guessed i would ever post a comment on a cricket blog. :)
andrew, shall we start a campaign to shake off some of your fascination with the bleak? how can you not like monty? he's so cool. "i like my athletes to be pissed off at all times"... bah humbug.

Zephirine said...

Thanks, Marcela. I know cricket's weird, but it is fascinating once it gets to you...

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

I'm confused, isn't cricket an insect that makes a lovely sound on summer evenings?

Zephirine said...

Offside, I wish I could think of a really good joke in reply to that. While you're there (or in case you pop back) can I be nosy and ask you two things:
which of the va'a crew are you? the chef? the pedal-boat clerk? or one of the less easily defined characters? And secondly, are you writing a book about being offside in Tahiti? Because you should.

Ebren said...

I second that.

"Offside in Tahiti" is a great title for a book.

bluedaddy said...

As if the lovely Mrs Offside doesnt have enough trouble with keeping OiT on track and his hat fitting on his head, without him becoming A Real Writer.

Saying that I do have some good publishing contacts, and know how to throw a great book signing. Nick Cave was a highlight (queuing down the street), but Bill Bryson sold more books. I do insist we launch on your home turf though Offside!

MotM said...

Offside - I'm adding my voice to the others calling for the book!

olivier said...

offsideintahiti said...

OK, you're all being very kind to me and I appreciate it but I think you're being too kind (and I'm not fishing for more compliments here). Don't forget that I am greatly helped by a subject matter that seems fresh, new and exotic to you as an audience. I'm not sure that's good enough for a book and whether I can follow it up with the required levels of stamina remains to be seen.

I'll try to find the time and energy to write a couple more pieces for Pseuds' Corner, then you can tell me if it's worth taking any further.

Now, to answer Zephirine's questions, or rather to avoid doing so:

I don't mind your being nosy but reserve the right to maintain a bit of the mistery. I've already been slated elsewhere for dispelling the myth that I do nothing all day but watch the sunset while sipping cocktails in my hammock and occasionally blogging in an offside kind of way. Let's just say that I am neither of the things you mention, and that my sporting background is not triathlon.

And bluedaddy, can we forget about the book, which sounds like a lot of work, and just have the launch and the party that goes with it?

bluedaddio said...

Now you're talking Offside.

It wouldnt be the first book launch I have been to where the grubby subject of flogging the product simply didnt crop up. Most publishers I have come across are more than happy it seems to get the book produced, then blame the weather, the booksellers, the author, the sweet baby jesus etc for the lack of sales. Anyone but themselves.

So all you need now is a few pithy anecdotes for the launch party speech, which no one will remember anyway, because we'll schedule your speech for after the mixology demo, and just before the mandatory skinny dip.

Tweet it, digg it