Ashes selection ‘incredible boost’ for Monty Panesar

England left-arm spinner concedes thinking his cricket career was over after bar incident.

Monty Pansear, second left, feels ashamed for his off-field behaviour in recent times. Satish Kumar / The National
Powered by automated translation

Monty Panesar thought he had blown his chance of playing for England again after he was fined for urinating on a bouncer.

The 31-year-old left-arm orthodox spinner had been named in the touring party for this winter’s Ashes, but was seen as a surprise pick in some quarters following the controversy which engulfed him earlier this summer.

Two months ago, Panesar was fined for drunkenly urinating on a bouncer after being asked to leave a club in Brighton.

It is an incident about which he is now repentant, though he insists it was not deliberate.

“I know it looks terrible but I wasn’t as drunk as people believe. Yes, I’d had a lot to drink, but I wasn’t paralytic,” he told the Mail on Sunday. “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.”

He continued: “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 it turned out, his England return came more quickly than many people thought.

He left Sussex to join Essex for the remainder of the season and, after calling the England management to explain himself and apologise for his actions, was subsequently handed a recall for the winter.

“I just can’t tell you how thrilled I am with the selection,” Panesar said.

“It’s an incredible boost I needed as a cricketer and as a person, after a chapter in my life I’m ashamed of.”

To compound Panesar’s embarrassment over the incident, a video of his pursuit by bouncers emerged on the internet a few days later.

The spinner’s new Essex team-mates showed him the footage when he arrived at the club.

“I knew it was out there but I hadn’t seen it and had no wish to, either,” Panesar said. “But the boys showed it in the dressing room and had a friendly laugh at my expense. It’s how sport deals with things like this.

“I was fine with it but, of course, it didn’t make great viewing. I’ve seen it now, I lost whatever dignity I had, and I have no intention of ever seeing it again.”

Panesar endured further controversy this week when he was handed a suspended one-match ban by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for acting in a “potentially threatening and intimidating” manner towards an opponent.

“I wouldn’t say I was either threatening or intimidating,” Panesar said about the incident involving Worcestershire’s Ross Whiteley. “But I will admit to becoming incredibly frustrated because I was having no luck at all, with inside edges and catches falling just short.

“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.”