Wed, Aug 08, 2007 - Page 19 News List

Panesar defends England's behavior during Test series

AFP , LONDON

England's Monty Panesar celebrates after claiming the wicket of India's Sachin Tendulkar in London on July 22.

PHOTO: AP

Monty Panesar has defended England's behavior ahead of the third and final Test against India, which starts at The Oval tomorrow.

England are 1-0 down in the series after a seven-wicket second Test defeat at Trent Bridge which was overshadowed by unsporting behavior on both sides.

India batsman Zaheer Khan reacted furiously after jellybeans were left in his crease while he was batting, brandishing his bat in the direction of gully, where Kevin Pietersen was fielding.

England's chairman of selectors, David Graveney, branded the jellybean incident "childish."

More seriously, India's Shanthakumaran Sreesanth was fined 50 percent of his match fee for shoulder-barging England captain Michael Vaughan.

And the fast bowler was involved in another controversial incident when bowling an illegal "beamer" at Pietersen, the batsman just getting his head out of the way in time.

Meanwhile the amount of sledging by players was frequently excessive with England wicket-keeper Matt Prior one of the worst offenders.

But Panesar, who himself this season has received a verbal warning for over-enthusiastic appealing, said nothing untoward had happened in Nottingham.

"We all want to see cricket played in the right spirit and that is what happened," the England left-arm spinner explained on Monday.

"You want to be competitive but you need to play the game in the right spirit, which is important. Peter Moores is the new coach with new enthusiasm and we are trying to emulate that enthusiasm in the game," he said.

"We haven't had any instructions about how to conduct ourselves. We all knew the game was played in the right spirit and as long as we keep doing that I am sure everything will be fine," Panesar said.

Panesar was selected on Monday for England's upcoming one-day international series against India but didn't make it into the squad for the inaugural World Twenty20 tournament in South Africa next month.

"My character is that I like to be involved in all forms of the game -- you want to be part of things like the Twenty20 squad. But missing out does give you an opportunity to prepare for the winter [tour to Sri Lanka], so you can take it is a positive as well," the ever optimistic Panesar said.

England, who came within a wicket of taking a 1-0 lead at Lord's, now find themselves having to win against India on the other side of London's River Thames if they are to preserve their six-year unbeaten run in home Test series.

They came from 1-0 down to secure a draw in India 18 months ago and Panesar is confident of a repeat performance.

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