On the latest Wisden Cricket Weekly Podcast, host Yas Rana was joined by Wisden Cricket Monthly magazine editor Jo Harman, and Phil Walker, the WCM editor-in-chief, to pick Wisden’s England Test and ODI teams of the 2000s, as part of the 2000s in Review series.
While picking the England Test team of the 2000s, they had a particularly tricky time picking a spinner. While Graeme Swann got a mention, the main debate was between Monty Panesar and Ashley Giles – the former a superior bowler, the latter a better batsman who lends balance. Panesar and Giles were two of the most prominent left-arm spinners for England in the 2000s, Panesar in the latter half of the decade and Giles in the first.
In a star-studded line-up, it came down to a choice between opting for the better bowler, and therefore a longer tail, or the better batsman who lends more teeth to the lower order, and thereby boosts the balance of the side.
Here’s why they eventually picked Giles.
JH: “Monty is the better bowler! You’ve got Giles who played the most matches, took the most wickets, very useful runs at No.8, safe pair of hands at gully. You’ve got Monty, nothing with the bat, negative value on the field, but he’s such a better bowler. Eight five-wicket hauls in the decade, as many as any English bowler, and he suffered a bit from the emergence of [Graeme] Swann towards the end of the decade.
“For me, Swann is still in the mix. He took 62 wickets in the decade, which for me, is enough to be in the mix just about. This might be a team of the Noughties but this is an English tail of the Nineties. I’ve got an extraordinarily long tail.”
PW: “I couldn’t have Gough or Caddick or Harmison at eight! Monty had beautiful days, a more attacking and beguiling and effective bowler than Giles, no question about it. But he wasn’t Warne, he wasn’t Murali, he wasn’t Kumble. He was an effective left-arm spinner on his day.
“In the end, Giles [gets in] by a nose because he makes that team look like a normal cricket team. Remove Giles and put Monty in there and you have three No.11s and one No.10 batting at 8.”
YR: “It’s a difficult one. As Jo said, Monty is the better bowler. But I don’t think he’s way out in front of Giles. But the problem is, if you put Monty in the team, you’ve got a ridiculous tail-end, which isn’t a lower order that any Test side, even in the 2000s, would have selected. It’s just not a proper batting order.”