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Panesar feared for England career

ESPNcricinfo staff

September 29, 2013

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Monty Panesar had a forgettable day, New Zealand v England, 3rd Test, Auckland, 1st day, March 22, 2013
Monty Panesar last played for England in New Zealand but won a place in this winter's Ashes squad despite his recent off-field problems © Getty Images
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Monty Panesar, the England spinner who has endured a troubled season, has welcomed the chance to resurrect his international career after being included in the Ashes squad to tour Australia.

Panesar was released by his county, Sussex, after a drunken night out in Brighton culminated in him urinating on bouncers outside a club, and he feared he had "thrown away" his England career. However, since making his apologies to the England management and taking up various offers of help to deal with his problems, he is hopeful of making a fresh start.

"I just can't tell you how thrilled I am with the selection," he told the Mail on Sunday. "It's an incredible boost I needed as a cricketer and as a person, after a chapter in my life I'm ashamed of. The support I've had from everyone has been overwhelming and my only focus now is to repay them for their amazing faith in me."

Panesar was fined by the police for being drunk and disorderly over the nightclub incident and footage of him being taken away from a late-night fast-food outlet subsequently appeared on YouTube. Shortly afterwards, Sussex announced that he would be released from his contract at the end of the season and he agreed to join Essex on loan.

"I know it looks terrible but I wasn't as drunk as people believe," Panesar said of the night in question, when he was out with a number of Sussex team-mates. "Yes, I'd had a lot to drink, but I wasn't paralytic. I was asked to leave and then got caught short. The next thing I knew the bouncers were shouting at me and running after me.

"I swear I didn't see them and I had no intention of purposefully urinating on them or near them. To be honest, I barely went at all and I'm pretty sure I didn't hit them but the next moment I'm thinking, 'Oh my God, they're chasing me', and I ran to the pizza place. That's where they caught me and a local decided to film it and put it on YouTube.

"The next morning I woke up and thought, 'What have I done?' My first reaction was that I'd just thrown my England career away, maybe even my whole cricket career. I felt very lonely and very depressed. It was a very dark time."

As well as phonecalls to Andy Flower, England's team director, and the captain, Alastair Cook, Panesar also got back in touch with Neil Burns, the former Leicestershire and Somerset wicketkeeper who is now a professional mentor and coach. He denied that his divorce in 2011 had contributed to his problems and said that the support from his family and the Sikh community had helped him to turn things around. He has also taken up yoga and not touched alcohol in the last six weeks.

"I've had a lot of help from people like Neil Burns, my long-time friend and mentor, who has helped me to learn to make a point of integrating far more with my new team-mates at Essex, as well as the staff and fans there. It's really helped, as has yoga. I used to do it a bit but since the incident I do it every morning without fail. It's helped to put me in a better place, both mentally and physically."

Panesar's inclusion in England's Ashes squad was subject to plenty of debate and the question of his suitability was raised again on Friday, when he was given a suspended ban by the ECB for "threatening and intimidating behaviour" in a county match. However, the 31-year-old, who is not yet certain where he will be playing next season, believes that his "passion is back" and said he is ready to perform the role of Graeme Swann's understudy that he is so familiar with.

"I wouldn't say I was either threatening or intimidating but I will admit to becoming incredibly frustrated because I was having no luck at all, with inside edges and catches falling just short," Panesar said. "I have to be aggressive when I bowl but it was a minor incident that I accept. The ECB and I have spoken about it and I must be mindful of my behaviour, but it's not seen as a problem by England.

"At least it shows my passion is back, I suppose. I know there's a chance I might not get a Test match in Australia but I am determined to be eager, positive, supportive and ready if a chance comes my way. I'm hoping I can be involved in a fourth consecutive Ashes victory and I'm very confident I will be, even if it's as a squad member."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by JG2704 on (October 1, 2013, 11:41 GMT)

Have to say , I don't think Monty deserves to be in this squad.

I'm not all that fussed re his off field incidents but I'm more fussed about his on field form. Yes Kerrigan was unimpressive but maybe that wasn't the most suitable test for him to come in as a 2nd spinner so it was a poor option to pick 2 spinners for that game at all. In India he was superb in tandem with Swann but in NZ as the sole spinner took 5 wickets in 3 tests at 70 each and in this CC season his form has not been good either. Having said that , I think Monty was made a scapegoat in SL in 2012 after having a very decent series in UAE.

Posted by shillingsworth on (September 30, 2013, 21:10 GMT)

@Ameshisuto - Just because Warne said it doesn't mean that it's anything more than a very tired cliché. In those 40 odd tests Panesar has taken 164 wickets. Playing the same test seems to work for him. Unlike Warne, he isn't the greatest spinner that ever lived but he's a lot better than many who've represented England in recent years. If he is part of a 'serious and growing problem', I would struggle for a description of the situation when the likes of Dawson and Batty were selected.

Like most players, Kerrigan earned his test selection by bowling consistently well for his county and England Lions. Shameful seems an odd description of his selection.

Posted by   on (September 30, 2013, 20:55 GMT)

I like Monty! I likes him a lot! he's okay for an England cricketer!

Posted by northumbriannomad on (September 30, 2013, 17:32 GMT)

@Chris Campling - "Loved by crowds around the world"? Seriously? Why not pick Eddie the Eagle, in that case, or Coco the Clown? Come to think of it - I'm a sensitive soul. Not being picked for England is terrible for my psychological welfare. I think they should pick me.

But seriously. The salient point about Panesar was made by Shane Warne on commentary: Panesar hasn't played 40-odd Tests. He's played the same Test 40-odd times. The fact that he's the second-best spinner in the country is evidence of a serious and growing problem. A problem which, considering the shameful treatment they doled out to poor Kerrigan, is probably of Team England's own making.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (September 30, 2013, 13:03 GMT)

Barring an injury to Swann, I can't see Magic Monty getting a single game in the Ashes. It is a real shame because many people (myself included) like the guy, and I've always believed bowlers should be chosen for their bowling alone and anything else (batting; fielding etc.) is just a gold-dust bonus. Monty bowls well. In tandem with Swann (which is what England should believe in much more) as opposed to an unlikely replacement, is where Monty could be (and has been!) phenomenal. But with Australian pitches/conditions historically favouring seam (and that's just the way it is - no accusations of "pitch-tampering" etc. intended at all!") - alas poor Monty will most likely be resigned to the sidelines this upcoming Ashes. That, and as Cyril_Knight points out below - a somewhat desolate season fortified with rather infamous antics, - kinda makes you wonder why the heck are England bringing him at all!?

Posted by   on (September 30, 2013, 7:22 GMT)

The inclusion of Monty is to be welcomed, not just because he is a fine bowler who needs confidence to produce his best, but because he is a sensitive soul. after the india tour he said that he hoped he wouldn't be discarded until the next time england played in the subcontinent - and then was. the frustration had to come out somewhere. choosing him for australia will only work if he isn't then used as a net bowler. show faith in him and he will repay. besides which, in a team short on likeable chracters (you listening, stuart broad?) he is loved by crowds around the world. i'm sure there will be no repetition of the brighton incident in australia because he will be in a place he needs, and deserves, to be - holding up an end so that swann can take wickets at the other and, at sydney or adelaide, maybe winning a test match on his own.

Posted by Nutcutlet on (September 30, 2013, 7:10 GMT)

Mischievous choice of "Selected Comment" here, I think! In view of it's somewhat unbalanced & partial explanation of England's win in India last autumn, I think SamRoy's comm should have been re-titled " Selective Comment". It's odd, isn't it, how many people have pointed this out? Pls publish!

Posted by landl47 on (September 30, 2013, 5:30 GMT)

@SamRoy: if you're going to make statements about players, you really should check your facts first. Far from not troubling any of India's top order batsmen, 16 of Swann's 20 wickets in the India v. England series were top order batsmen (that would be batsmen down to and including Dhoni). Swann also took his wickets at a lower average than Monty.

Monty had a fine series, but to suggest he troubled India's top order batsmen and Swann didn't is just plain wrong.

Posted by Cpt.Meanster on (September 29, 2013, 20:44 GMT)

The England selectors have no choice. They had to pick Monty given how bare the cupboard is in England when it comes to top quality spinners. After Monty and Swann, there isn't anyone worthy of a mention. We saw what happened to Simon Kerrigan. There are perhaps more Kerrigans around England and they simply don't wish to risk it. Monty, however unstable he may be, is better than an unknown rookie spinner from county cricket. It's sensible to go with a proven performer.

Posted by Cyril_Knight on (September 29, 2013, 19:58 GMT)

The selection of Monty and Tremlett must infuriate people who follow County cricket closely. Week in week out we see talented bowlers playing their hearts out and taking wickets, winning matches and progressing. Yet England persist with selecting bowlers (and sometimes batters) on reputation only. Panesar and Tremlett have been awful this season and have not earned the right to tour. I hope neither of these two are required Down-Under as the Aussies will relish facing them.

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