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Last Updated: Friday, 19 May 2006, 10:47 GMT 11:47 UK
Underwood backs Panesar potential
By Martin Gough

Panesar and Underwood
Underwood (right) believes Panesar learnt much in India
England's most successful spin bowler Derek Underwood says the team's batting success will help Monty Panesar become a real attacking threat.

"If you haven't got runs, spinners have to bowl to defensive fields and that takes away opportunities," he said.

"England have got a lot of runs in recent years. That will help the recovery of spin bowling.

"Monty Panesar looks as if he is somebody who, when the ball turns, could bowl a side out."

Former left-armer Underwood took 297 Test wickets, over 100 more than any other England slow bowler.

I'm very keen to see him bowl on [a pitch] that is turning on the fourth or fifth day
Derek Underwood

England's first-choice spinner, Ashley Giles, has 140 Test victims at an average of 39.60 but has often been used in a holding role, allowing pace bowlers to attack.

Underwood was impressed by Panesar's first Test appearance on English soil after he took 2-49 in the second innings of the draw with Sri Lanka at Lord's.

But he is most keen to see the 24-year-old perform on a more helpful wicket, although Giles aims to be fit for the second half of the summer, and the series against Pakistan.

"Monty looks as if he's got a lot of potential and has learnt a lot in India because of their players and the surfaces you bowl on," Underwood told BBC Sport.

"I'm very keen to see him bowl on [a pitch] that is turning on the fourth or fifth day and that's when he will be judged.

"If England have got runs on the board the spinner can bowl with men up round the bat and it changes the whole aspect of the game."

Underwood, who is patron of cricket charity the Primary Club, was speaking at the launch of the club's new junior section.

He was also impressed by England's young pacemen, Sajid Mahmood and Liam Plunkett, in last weekend's Test, although it ended in frustration for the hosts.

"It was a simple case of catches win matches and we didn't hold onto them," he said of the match.

"But I'm sure the new, young bowlers that came on the scene will have learned a lot from the experience of playing at Lord's and it will stand them in good stead.

"It looks as if we've got some potential fast bowlers."



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