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Last Updated: Monday, 9 January 2006, 11:45 GMT
Coach backs Panesar England claim
By Paresh Soni

Monty Panesar
He is a player of immense ability and I was surprised he wasn't selected to go to Pakistan
Kepler Wessels
Northamptonshire coach Kepler Wessels has urged England to take left-arm spinner Monty Panesar to India.

The 23-year-old was overlooked for the tour of Pakistan but has been tipped to secure a berth in the squad for India, which will be named on Friday.

Wessels told BBC Sport: "If England want to compete on the spinning front they have to select him.

"He's one of the few spinners in England who's not just a containing spinner - he's able to take wickets."

Veteran Hampshire off-spinner Shaun Udal went to Pakistan alongside left-armer Ashley Giles, but took only three wickets at 92.33 in three Tests.

Panesar claimed 46 Championship victims at 21.54 in 2005 and, with the pitches in India expected to favour slower bowlers, Wessels believes it is time to give him his chance.

The former South Africa and Australia Test batsman explained: "He is a player of immense ability and I was surprised he wasn't selected to go to Pakistan.

"On form, towards the latter part of the last season, he was definitely the best spinner in the country.

"He's a very tall spinner and does turn the ball more than most. He's very aggressive, gets good players out, gets good bounce and good turn.

"And that puts him aside from some of the other spinners in the country."

He'll have to bowl well, but I'm sure he'll rise to the challenge
Kepler Wessels

Panesar's batting and fielding have been cited as possible reasons why he has yet to earn a step up to international cricket.

But Wessels says the Loughborough University graduate has addressed those issues during a stint at former Australia batsman Darren Lehmann's academy in Adelaide and is ready to take on India's formidable batting line-up.

"He had two months there to sharpen up his skills. I've been in touch with him a couple of times since he's been back and he feels it's been worthwhile," the ex-Proteas skipper added.

"He's always performed well against good players of spin, he's got them out on a regular basis, and that's one of the impressive things about him.

"It will be challenging for him because as we know the Indian players are very good against the spinners, so he'll have to bowl well, but I'm sure he'll rise to the challenge."

Interview: Kepler Wessels



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