Image courtesy of: The Sun
“My first reaction was that I’d just thrown my England career away, maybe even my whole cricket career”
England spinner Monty Panesar has revealed that he honestly believed he had “thrown my England career away” after being involved in numerous controversies both on and off the field.
Panesar was released by Sussex after urinating on bouncers outside of a Brighton nightclub, upon where he signed a deal with Essex.
But despite that, he was still included in England’s Ashes squad for their tour of Australia in November.
“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 for by the police for being drunk and disorderly, but the 31-year-old revealed that he “wasn’t as drunk as people believe”.
“I know it looks terrible but I wasn’t as drunk as people believe,” Panesar said. “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.”
Ever since that fateful day, Panesar has not consumed any alcohol and has started doing yoga to “put me in a better place, both mentally and physically”.
Panesar also received support from his family, friends and the Sikh community.
“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,” he said. “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.”
With the Ashes series just over the horizon, Panesar noted that he was ready to resume his role as Graeme Swann’s back-up.
“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 when asked about the suspended ban he received from the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) for “threatening and intimidating behaviour” during a county match with Essex. “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.”