Monty Panesar still considers himself England’s second spinner despite continuing his comeback with another five-wicket haul on day one of the tourists’ warm-up match in Colombo.
Panesar has been in a rich vein of form since being restored to the international set-up this winter, celebrating five-fors in each of the four matches he has played.
That run includes five for 57 against a PCB XI in Dubai, a total of 14 wickets in two Tests versus Pakistan and now five for 37 against the Sri Lankan Board XI, who were bowled out for 169 today.
In that period he has looked a more potent threat than Graeme Swann, who returned nought for 47 at the Premadasa Stadium but remains one of the most highly-rated slow bowlers in the world.
At the moment there is no obvious rivalry between the pair, with England committed to playing two spinners in Sri Lanka.
That will almost certainly drop to just one in the summer, but Panesar is not laying claim to Swann’s place yet.
“Yes, he’s the number one spinner. Absolutely,” said Panesar.
“We work together as partners out there and I’m guided by him. I ask him ‘should we do this?’ and ‘what shall we do here?’
“We work very well out there in tandem. It’s something we did quite well at Northamptonshire together and we’re reconnecting out here.”
While he is not ready to go to head to head with Swann, Panesar does believe he is a different, better bowler than he was in his previous spell in the side.
He did not strike until his 15th over here, but went on to claim five of the last six wickets to fall - a sign of his new-found calm approach.
“I think you’ve just got to stay disciplined, not look to over-attack,” he said.
“Before, when I was younger I used to (attempt too much), now I don’t think like that. I’m a lot more patient, just trying to be disciplined.
“If it does happen quite early then I try not to get excited and start trying to bowl magic balls. You can get carried away.
“It’s a place you can see a couple turn quite big and you want to over-attack because you think you can get a few wickets. But they’re very good players here so you have to hold on, create pressure and not get carried away.
“I just focus on a simple process of trying to bowl maidens - I don’t try and do anything expansive.”
England, who will resume tomorrow on six for nought after managing only seven balls of their reply before bad light came, started the day by losing Stuart Broad to injury.
The seamer was named in the side but pulled out after spraining his ankle while tripping over a boundary rope.
England are not concerned about his involvement after this match and Panesar is confident his spell on the sidelines will be brief.
“It was just a slight trip, he should be all right by tomorrow morning and he’s icing it now.
“It’s early in the tour so it’s probably a sensible decision to rest it.”