Line and Length, Pace and Spin

After their conservative display at Lord's, where they seemed content to bide their time and wait for Flintoff to return, England's crushing defeat of Pakistan at Old Trafford came as a welcome relief, and a sign that they had come to terms with the fact that they won't be seeing their mate Freddie for another few months and they'd better try to get along without him.

On an unusually helpful surface Steve Harmison produced his best display of fast bowling for more than two years and Monty Panesar again demonstrated what a magnificent bowler he could become.

England haven't had a slow bowler with Panesar's ability to spin the ball since Derek Underwood, and when you consider the fact that he appears unafraid of both reputations and flighting the ball, he could go a very long way indeed.

The apparent obsession with his lack of fielding and batting ability appears increasingly irrelevant. Anyone who's been around the cricket block for more than a couple of years will remember players who make Monty look like Ricky Ponting (Kevin Jarvis and Jim Griffiths to name only two), and, while he clearly struggles in the field, he's working hard to improve and England seem to be doing a very good job of hiding him thus far.

Panesar appears to have captured the public's imagination in a way that few cricketers have managed in recent years and, as an example of the evolution of his country as a multi-racial, multi-faith, multi-cultural society at something approaching ease with itself, the response of English crowds this summer has been resonant and fascinating.

Up until Old Trafford I felt that Ashley Giles would almost certainly return to the side as soon as he's fit, but I'm starting to have my doubts.

Perhaps even Duncan Fletcher is as well.

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