It was an annus horribilis for Monty Panesar. Many players have had personal problems before, but few have consequentially found themselves urinating on bouncers. Now we dislike bouncers as much as the next drinker, but pissing on them is probably a step too far. Monty should’ve just puked on their shoes like the rest of us. His move to Essex – and away from the influential Rory Hamilton-Brown – was applauded, but the main headline since his relocation has been the one-match ban imposed on him by the ECB. We didn’t witness the misdemeanour, but the description we read sounds like a ban was a bit severe. Nonetheless, Panesar has another Ashes tour ahead of him and surely everyone in cricket hopes that he has reached the nadir and is bouncing back both on and off the pitch.
Leicestershire were truly rotten, accumulating a grand total of zero wins in the Championship. They even managed to lose to the Leeds/Bradford students. There are mitigating factors; namely that they’ve got no money, a tiny ground and anyone decent gets immediately whisked away to pastures richer, but it’s not an excuse for barely scraping two wins together across an entire decade. Semi-regular T20 success is fine, but this year they broke their own low points record in the four day stuff, got nowhere in either limited-over competition and virtually the entire squad has regressed – which is no small feat, given their starting point.
There is no obvious long-term strategy, there is no yearly improvement and there aren’t many more straws left to clutch. Something radical needs to happen lest they become a completely pointless entity. Fortunately, despite all that, they avoided being the shittest county in 2013 because Surrey, bottom of Division One, were both abject and dislikable. Something which came as a complete surprise to approximately 0% of the cricketing population. Who’d have thought that buying a squad of thirtysomething has-beens and some mega-expensive overseas players would create a team that failed to gel and who regularly got wooped? As mentioned here, David Willey had an excellent season resulting in a winter trip to Australia but also managed to articulate his (and thousands of others) thoughts about Jade Dernbach live on Sky. Which says more about Surrey than it does Willey.
Speaking of that particular county, Jon Lewis appears to have finished – just three first-class wickets, 13 in the YB40 and eight in the T20 tournament. The sun also appears to be setting on Marcus Trescothick. Although insistent that he will remain as captain and opener, Somerset as a team were far worse than in previous campaigns and his own batting was sorrowful, averaging 27.19.
We should also mention the county cricket scheduling, something which is discussed every rotten autumn. A combination of too much (meaningless) cricket, other requirements such as the Champions Trophy and whatnot, and competing/contrasting interests meant that the season seemed more extended than ever. The County Championship for example, began on 10th April and concluded on 27th September – making it hard to tally its denouement with what happened in the first few weeks. It also seemed a little strange to schedule the (fantastic) T20 finals on the day that football’s Premier League kicked off. However, what would cricket be without debates around scheduling? It’s almost as much fun as watching Surrey getting thrashed.
Oh, and Saj. Poor, poor Saj.