The Panesar problem

Ignore Monty Panesar's bad fielding and hope it goes away. He is young and he may improve. He is keen to get better and perhaps, as he LEARNS MORE and more, he will naturally become more adept, says TED CORBETT.

May 22. David Lloyd, television commentator and humourist, has a concern that one day he will see Farveez Maharoof take three wickets in an over and shout: "Maharoof's on fire" and that some well-intentioned person will send for the fire brigade.

May 23. You may remember I mention that the well-paid England players are following in the steps of other show biz stars by giving their children odd names. Here is a list of some of the other celebrity events in the life of Andrew "Freddie" Flintoff: Starting a marathon in Manchester; endorsing a bat; posing in his own tee shirt; opening a website which offers his personal tips on fast bowling, and has his on-line diary and five sponsors; and putting together a management team, including former Lancashire team-mate Neil Fairbrother. There is also a helicopter trip to see Amir Khan — Sajid Mahmood's cousin — fight and a trip to Ludlow races to see his horse run.

May 24. Life is strange on the road. Outside my room in our Birmingham hotel, a toddler is playing football with Daddy. "Hello," says my pal, "you must be Theo Walcott!" Daddy laughs as he tries to persuade his youngster to dribble the ball down the corridor. But Marcus Trescothick's 18-month-old daughter Ellie is too interested in the strangers to bother with football and makes a bold attempt to follow us into the lift.

May 25. On the road part two. Media men and players are staying in five star hotels, eating six star food and living a seven star life but for some the world of cricket is not so grand. "We are bundled into a bus the day before the match, driven to the ground, put up in a hotel, have a laugh every night and work our socks off every day," one security guy tells me. "No grumbles though. It's a wage, isn't it?"

May 26. Channel Five, newcomers to this strange world, win the contract to show a highlights package every evening and, on the evidence of the first two Tests, this commercial channel make the right decision. But tonight is their first big test as play continues for 10 minutes after their programme goes to air. "OK, OK, it works," says the producer Gary Franses afterwards but you can tell he is not praying for a repeat every night of the summer. So exactly the same conditions prevail the following night after which there is praise for the show from David Morgan, chairman of the ECB, and more praise for the production company Sunset + Vine from Channel Five, already happy with their viewing figures.

May 27. After every Test Jo King spends hours in her study compiling an analysis, scouring through her detailed ball-by-ball score sheet and adjusting the reasons behind each dismissal by weighing the evidence of her own eyes against the notes made by experts and newspaper writers. It is a laborious job but, with a background in auditing, Jo enjoys the work and this week it turns up one of the most fascinating statistics of recent years. She discovers that England have dropped 115 catches in the last 30 Tests even though they have won 17 of those matches and lost just five. So how do the experts regard these figures? Mike Atherton, decent fielder and England Test captain 55 times, says, interestingly, that he only raises problems like dropped catches, after a victory. "If you have lost you don't want to bring up further negatives," he says.

May 28. On the road again. Vic Isaacs, the Hampshire scorer for many years, retires at the end of last summer and decides to move north to the village of the delightfully named Ramsbottom, home to a Central Lancashire League team. He offers to score for them, which means he spends this summer travelling from his home in Hampshire to work at their two weekend matches. "He is loving it," says his son Richard, the Sky television scorer. "Absolutely loving it."

May 29. On the road — or we would like to have been. But we oversleep and just as we are finishing breakfast the hotel fire alarm goes off. The result is that we have to stand outside in the cold May air for 80 minutes while firemen find the cause of the trouble. It is a Bank Holiday so the key holder is not at home and by the end of the search for him the 100 or so people outside are thoroughly miserable. Two ladies are wearing only dressing gowns and one or two other people — including the French football star Patrick Vieira have people to see, business to conduct, places to go.

May 30.

May 31. What is the solution to the Monty Panesar problem? I hear all sorts of answers from sending him for one to one lessons with the England fielding coach Trevor Penny to returning him to his roots and starting right at the beginning once again. There is another solution. Ignore his bad fielding and hope it goes away. Panesar is young and he may improve. He is keen to get better and perhaps, as he learns more and more, he will naturally become more adept. On the other hand, is it absolutely, even in this age of mobile fielders, for him to be as slick as Jonty Rhodes? There have been various cricketers who could not field. Geoff Boycott improved by sheer hard work you will not be surprised to know. C. S. "Father" Marriott bowled leg breaks in one Test for England against West Indies in the 1930s and it became customary to put a mid off in so that he could hand returns from the wicket-keeper to Marriott who was not bound to catch them easily.

June 4. Can someone please tell me the derivation of the expression "gone for a gallon." It means that a bowler has conceded 100 runs in an innings and it appears to be around for at least 30 years. The best explanation I hear is that a bowler with 100 runs against his name has to buy a gallon of beer for his fielders. At Lord's in the first Test six bowlers give away more than 100 runs, which means a lot of fielding and a whole load of beer.