County news March 9, 2016

Panesar returns to Northants squad

Monty Panesar has a chance to resume his career © Getty Images

Monty Panesar will take another step towards resuming his professional career on Wednesday when he embarks on Northamptonshire's pre-season tour to Barbados.

Although Panesar, who underwent shoulder surgery in December, is not yet fit to return to bowling, he will continue his rehab and take the opportunity to get to know the squad. As an experienced player, the club also hope his insight will prove valuable to a relatively young group of players.

Northants have not yet offered Panesar a contract. While hopes that his salary may be subsidised by the ECB have faltered - they contributed to his pay while he was with Essex - it is still possible that sponsorship could be agreed to help Northants pay for him. At present, the club - who announced significant losses for the second year in succession earlier this week - have only a modest sum (perhaps as little as £15,000) to offer which had been allocated towards signing a second overseas player in the NatWest Blast.

If Panesar is able to recover his fitness, however, there is little doubt he could prove a significant asset to Northants. The club have, at present, a playing staff of just 15 and Panesar's ability to bowl long, tight spells could ease the burden on the rest of the attack.

The prospect of an England recall can't be entirely discounted, either. While there may be some bridges to build, such is Panesar's ability and England's pressing need for a potent spin attack ahead of the winter tours of Bangladesh and India that it remains just about possible he could stake a claim over the next few months. Aged 33, he potentially has several years ahead of him in the professional game.

On a more basic level, many will celebrate the idea of Panesar simply returning to cricket. He first captured the imagination as a highly skilled spinner whose enthusiasm for the game was infectious. Somewhere along the way, though, those qualities became somewhat clouded and he has, at times, appeared something of a troubled soul. He was dropped from both his previous sides, Essex and Sussex, due to disciplinary issues. The thought that a move back to the club where he stated out might help him put his troubles behind him is encouraging.

A move back to Northamptonshire appeals for several reasons. Not only would it enable him to live close to his family in Luton and benefit from their stabilising influence, but it is close to the Gurdwara (Sikh place of worship) he attends in Coventry.

Panesar emerged through the youth system at Bedfordshire and Northants and played some of his best cricket for the club. But he lost his central contract at a time when Northants were committed to the signing of Nicky Boje and, with the club struggling to fulfil his salary expectations, he was allowed to leave for Sussex at the end of the 2009 season.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • PaulMcGregor on March 13, 2016, 19:35 GMT

    Oh to see Monty fielding on the boundary again - it brings joy to the sternest of souls and a healthy size of boot to get to the ball.

  • brusselslion on March 10, 2016, 18:18 GMT

    Let's hope he can get back to his best. Would currently easily be the best English spinner if he can.

  • WolfberriesToo on March 10, 2016, 17:27 GMT

    Fingers crossed he can get back to his best and put his troubles behind him.

  • thebatsmansHoldingthebowlersWilley on March 10, 2016, 14:45 GMT

    He is definitely a troubled soul - maybe the media characterisation of the jovial 'Good ol' Monty' didn't help him because it is far removed from his real character. A real shame, he should have well over 100 Test caps by now, he really was a good bowler for England. Cricket is a tough sport though...with so much time away from home, if you do have personal/domestic issues then cricket does not really give you the time to sort them out because you're on the road so much. I wish Monty all the best and hope he finds inner peace.

  • bigfrank on March 10, 2016, 10:22 GMT

    Good to see Monty on the road back to 1st Class cricket.Don't see a Test recall ever though,as Monty's batting and fielding come close to the liability category.

  • SamWintson92 on March 10, 2016, 7:22 GMT

    Sorry, Monty has 167 wickets to be exact.

  • SamWintson92 on March 10, 2016, 7:21 GMT

    Public indeed like him & he can do a job for England. He already has 50 tests & 200+ test wickets to show. Good luck.

  • CandD-Ski on March 10, 2016, 0:12 GMT

    Monty is a character - and he has ability. The public like him and I wish him well on his road to redemption!

  • woodgreen on March 9, 2016, 23:00 GMT

    Could easily play for another 5 or 6 years.Good luck Monty

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