The Ashes 2006-07 September 19, 2006

Panesar prepares for hostile crowds

Cricinfo staff



Monty Panesar: 'You expect the worst. I've prepared for the worst-case scenario' © Getty Images
Monty Panesar has already shown himself to be a mentally strong cricketer during the early stages of his career. But he is making sure he'll be fully prepared for the tough challenge of playing in front of hostile Australian crowds during the Ashes by talking to a psychologist.

In a bid to steel himself for the "worst-case scenario" when it comes to the abuse he could face from the sell-out crowds, The Sun reports he has spent time with Steve Bull, England's team psychologist.

Following his meetings, Panesar believes he can turn the hostility of the crowd into a positive when England bid to retain the urn, starting at Brisbane on November 23.

"I have spoken to Steve," Panesar said. "He's one who can help with that sort of stuff. I'll try to use it as a positive energy. You expect the worst. I've prepared for the worst-case scenario but it could be even worse than that. Whatever happens from the crowd will happen. If you expect the worst and it's even worse than you imagined - well at least you are not going to be too surprised by it."

Panesar, who has claimed 32 wickets in his first 10 Test matches, has already learnt to deal with the attention of vocal crowds. He made his debut in India where he was treated like a hero, but was always under intense pressure because of his poor fielding. After coming through the early challenge, he began the English season with the crowd cheering every time he fielded cleanly, but by the end of the series win against Pakistan he was a national hero.

Many commentators have predicted Panesar will be targeted by local spectators during the Ashes. In 2005-06 supporters in Australian grounds were accused of verbally insulting South Africa and Sri Lanka players and the ICC commissioned a report into the behaviour from Goolam Vahanvati, India's solicitor general, who found the racial abuse was "premeditated, coordinated and calculated".