Monty Panesar, Bob Clarke, Freddie Brown and the missing “cricket brain”

Geoffrey Boycott on TMS, about Monty Panesar – “He doesn’t understand the LBW rule, he never has.  He plays cricket, but he doesn’t understand it.”  Boycott is not the first commentator to remark on Panesar’s lack of  a ” cricket brain”.  This sems to be a persistent problem with Northants bowlers – back to Freddie Brown –

“As anyone may by now have guessed, Bob Clarke has not got a very acute cricket brain.  He has been known to enquire – at the moment when he is going out to bat – which way an off-spinner turns the ball.  He seems unable to remember the direction of the break.  I also recall that after one match, when  our players were chatting over a pint of ale the talk concerned a particular performance by one of our bowlers earlier in the day.  One of our professionals remarked that he thought this bowler had sent down a remarkable number of long hops, to which Bob Clarke added the opinion “Yes, he did, and a lot of short ones too”.”   

also “there are times in the field when his concentration wavers and he does not appear to be playing in the same match as his colleagues.  He wanders haphazardly about,  and very often I have felt impelled to scratch a mark with the spikes of my boots to indicate just where I wanted him to stand”.

As a batsman?  “Bob Clarke is completely unorthodox.  Some of his shots are out of this world. To see him wind up to a slow long hop outside the off stump, heave prodigiously, miss,and swing round to finish facing fine leg is a sight that invariably brings down the house”. 

As – inevitably – Clarke was “One of the few local born players” he was “a firm favourite with the Northamptonshire crowds” – and he does seem to have embodied a lot of the true Northamptonshire spirit.  And what, for that matter, would Kevin Pietersen have done with that slow long hop outside off stump -paddle-sweep  it to short leg?

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2 thoughts on “Monty Panesar, Bob Clarke, Freddie Brown and the missing “cricket brain”

  1. The late Bob Clarke coached me in another life. Might explain my lack of success as a player although I got on well with both him and his wife and love the game.

    • There were a lot of Clark(e)s at Northants in those days, weren’t there? (Nobby, Carlos Bertie) and FRB didn’t seem to think much of any of them. He (FRB) gave my Dad a bit of coaching as a net bowler at Northants, though the only advice he could remember (with regard to leg-breaks) was “the wrist, boy, the wrist is important”.

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