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Panesar's future uncertain after Essex release

Not so long ago, Monty Panesar would have looked forward to the announcement of the England Test squad for a tour of the UAE secure in the knowledge that his name would be included

George Dobell
George Dobell
Monty Panesar sets off on celebration, Essex v Worcestershire, County Championship, Division Two, Chelmsford, September 24, 2014

Monty Panesar's overall record for Essex was solid  •  Getty Images

Not so long ago, Monty Panesar would have looked forward to the announcement of the England Test squad for a tour of the UAE secure in the knowledge that his name would be included.
But on the day England included three spinners in their 16-man squad, it was announced that Panesar had been released by Essex after two and a bit seasons.
His record for the club - 67 wickets in 24 first-class games at an average of 28.62 - is good, but the news is no surprise. Panesar has played only three Championship matches this season and, after a disagreement with his captain in the field during one game, had become a peripheral figure in a team which tends to play its home matches on pitches offering more help to their seam bowlers.
The move to Essex was to have been a new start. After his release from Sussex in 2013 for well-documented reasons, he took Essex close to promotion in 2014 when he claimed 46 first-class wickets at 24.86. His release leaves him without a club and facing an uncertain future.
Aged 33, he has the time - and the will - to come again. His intention at present is to play some club cricket in the winter, probably in Australia, and then search for another county in the new year. Many counties will be interested in his potential but wary of the baggage that his acquisition appears to bring. While it cannot be presumed that he will play county cricket again, his ability to shoulder a heavy workload, bowling economical overs on unhelpful pitches and threatening when conditions allow, is likely to ensure he finds a new home.
It may be that the ECB have a role to play. It is understood they helped subsidise Panesar's stay at Essex and, at a time when England's spin bowling resources are limited, they may be minded to help ensure he remains in the professional game. If he were somehow able to recover his best form and fitness, he would still warrant England consideration. Tours to India and Bangladesh loom in 2016-17.
His potential remains unquestioned. The retirement of Graeme Swann at the end of 2013 should have heralded a new dawn for Panesar in international cricket, but his personal issues have compromised his ability to focus on his cricket.
He continues to benefit from the support of Neil Burns, the former county wicketkeeper who fulfils a mentoring role for several players, but the PCA will also have a role to play with a brilliant but troubled man moving into a vulnerable phase of his life.
Essex have also announced the release of 32-year-old allrounder Greg Smith, 22-year-old seamer Matt Salisbury and 19-year-old wicketkeeper Saf Imtiaz.
The club, which is currently searching for a new coach after the departure of Paul Grayson, is also understood to be in the market for another seam bowler or two.

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo