‘We need Monty back bowling as well as he can bowl’, says Alastair Cook

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Cook will welcome Panesar back with open arms if he makes some necessary “changes in his life”

Having walked away with a 3-0 win against Australia in a challenging Ashes series, England captain Alastair Cook just cannot buy a break as he now has another obstacle in his path, which just so happens to be centred around left-arm spinner Monty Panesar, who has dominated headlines in the country for all the wrong reasons.

In the past month, Panesar not only got divorced, but was also fined by police for harassing a group of women in a Brighton nightclub and urinating on the bouncers after he was asked to leave.

However, despite admitting that Panesar had “let the England shirt down”, Cook also noted that he would welcome the spinner back with open arms if he could make some necessary “changes in his life”.

“What’s happened over the last couple of weeks has been disappointing,” Cook said. “I’ve spoken to him – he actually rang me – which shows he knows he’s done wrong and let the England shirt down a bit.

“But he recognises he needs a bit of a change in his life which I think is always the first step.

“The bottom line is that we need Monty back bowling as well as he can bowl. The way back is through taking wickets and he knows that. We know he has that pedigree in international cricket.”

After having been released by Sussex, Panesar immediately joined Essex, which the is county Cook plays for.

“I didn’t know he was going to Essex,” Cook said. “I thought he was going to Northants. I’m not the be-all and end-all at Essex. But I’m glad we get a quality spinner and I’m going to get a nice good look at him at Essex.”

Other than taking wickets for Essex, Panesar will have to maintain his discipline both on and off the field, while also easing off the alcohol.

“I don’t really know all the details,” Cook said. “But he has that side of his life that he definitely needs to get right because we know what an off-field life can do to you.

“Everyone is saying, ‘Is the door shut?’ It’s certainly not, but he knows what he must do to get back.

“It was not the most pleasant phone call for him to make – to the England captain to apologise. But we know the class Monty has as a bowler and what he can do when he gets it right. We’ve seen that time and again. He just has to go back to basics, work as hard as he can and do what he does best – which is taking wickets. If he does it for Essex, it’s even better for me.”

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