Why we love Monty. Just a few months ago, Monty Panesar was the struggling underdog of the England cricket team to some ("from what I've read of his fielding and batting, I think there's potential for him to outdo Phil Tufnell for sheer comedic value"), and downright butt-of-the-joke to others (Ponty turns around and appeals madly. The umpire isn't amused. "What the f*** are you appealing for?" he asks. "The ball," says Ponty, imploringly. "Can I have the ball please?"). After continued improval culminating in a ten-wicket haul (including the key batsmen) against Pakistan last weekend, now the bookies have the turbanator at 10-1 to be BBC Sports Personality of the year. ("Monty is a left-arm finger spinner for crying out loud. What is he doing spinning it a foot? Not even Danish Kaneria, the second best leg spinner in world cricket, could turn it that much"). Quite the turn-around!
You say bodyline, I say leg theory. Either way, the origins of one of sport's most enduring rivalries (leading to a near diplomatic crisis) make for a fascinating read to the budding cricket enthusiast. No wonder people turned out in their thousands to queue in the early hours for the final day of another nail-biting test. It's turning into a hell of an ashes series.