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Panesar eager to set the record straight

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Alison Mitchell | 19:58 UK time, Thursday, 26 November 2009

While England's cricketers used their day off to hare around Cape Town on roaring Harley Davidsons, England's forgotten spinner Monty Panesar has been trying to make amends with his former employers Northants, after ruffling a few feathers with comments he made last weekend.

Monty is in Johannesburg where he's playing for the South Africa domestic side Highveld Lions, with a view to getting his career back on track. A bid to win back his England place is also behind his recent move from Northamptonshire to Sussex.

Panesar told reporters last week: "I felt Northants were no longer working with me to become an England player. I loved playing for Northants. I regarded it as my home club but I had to go to where I was most wanted."

He now insists he was misunderstood, that he had no intention of criticising the club and is adamant his relationship with Northants has not soured since signing a three-year deal with Sussex. In a flurry of introspection he also told me he believed it was his fault - if he was still performing for England, none of this would have happened.

Monty PanesarMonty pictured with Highveld Lions assistant coach Lawrence Mahatlane during a match in Potchefstroom

When we spoke on the phone, an animated Monty was anxious to smooth over a few things and stress how much his home club means to him.

"The pitch changed at Wantage Road and didn't suit my style. It used to be a turning track but it's become more seamer-orientated. The way the pitch has changed meant it was going to be better for my cricket to move somewhere else."

"It was portrayed that Northants didn't help me with my England career, but they did. I think for whatever reason things have been written to create a difference between me and Northants. It's my home club. Northants have done an awful lot for me and have always been really supportive."

Northants coach David Capel has a great deal of affection for Panesar, having worked closely with him through the ranks over the last 10 years, and was surprised by Monty's initial quotes, thinking it was out of character, and that some things were inaccurate.

Here's what Capel had to say:

"It was a little disappointing to read the comments initially, but I know now that Monty tried to contact me on Friday night to say he felt there might be some quotes coming out that he was worried about. Northants have never been anything other than supportive of Monty's England career and throughout all stages of his move to Sussex there's never been anything other than harmony between us.

"In fact all communication between Monty and the club and Monty and the management has been completely amicable. As far as we are concerned he is still part of the Northants family and he has many friends and admirers. Everyone at the club still supports him and wishes him well for the future."

It is widely understood that once Panesar lost his ECB central contract, it was going to be difficult for Northants to afford his wages. Panesar's deal with Sussex is thought to be worth in the region of £125,000, but he insists the move is about helping his game.

"I had another year on my contract but it was going to become more difficult to accommodate two spinners in me and Nicky Boje (another slow left-arm bowler) in all the Championship matches.

"He's captain so you couldn't really leave him out. Northants always accommodated me when I came back from England duty and then wasn't in the England squad. The media have made it sound like there was conflict but it was an amicable and mutual decision when I sat down with the club's management.

"If I was still performing I wouldn't have left Northants because I would still have been playing for England and these things wouldn't have come up. It's all down to me. I haven't performed for England. It's my fault."

Panesar will still face competition on the south coast though, where Sussex boast promising leg-spinner Will Beer, as well as off-spinner Ollie Rayner.

It's clear that Monty regrets causing a stir with Northants, who continued to play him last season, despite taking just 18 wickets in 13 Championship matches. He's even donated £10,000 to the club as a way of saying thank you.

With an eye to the future, he says he's now enjoying the responsibility of being an overseas player with the Highveld Lions, and (although it's hard to believe it) insists he wasn't thinking about England's tour when Graeme Swann got injured and off spinner James Tredwell was brought in ahead of Panesar as cover.

In a moment that sounds more Bishan Singh Bedi than Mudhsuden Singh Panesar, he says: "If I focus on the future I'm diluting the present. If I focus on the present and on what I'm doing here, the future will take care of itself."

His fervent hope is that the future will one day involve playing in an England shirt again.

Comments

  • Comment number 1.

    Good point made that none of the previous reporting on Monty leaving Northants has mentioned.

    Monty basically was only ever going to play at Northants when they played two spinners because of Boje being there, Northants who were expecting to only see him occasionally for years a couple of seasons ago have quite sensibly veered more towards the strengths they had in the seam area so playing two spinners at home is just not that viable.

    Frankly both Northants and Monty have been impeccable in the whole thing, Northants could have held him to his contract, or demanded a transfer fee, they did not.

    As for England, it was the right choice to ignore Monty this time and he clearly knows that and agrees. He had to go away and spend some time working on his game, improving in some areas and finding his form in others, he has a plan in place that involves playing regularly with The Lions this winter and then Sussex next year, aiming for getting back with England next summer, possibly starting with the Bangladesh/Australia tri-nations and definately the Pakistan tests/ODIs. Calling him up now would destroy that schedule completely.

  • Comment number 2.

    I'd love to see Monty mature into World renowned spinner, but feels he needs more variation, his top spinner needs improvement and he needs a wrong-un to build the aura of mystique over batsmen. But I Love his enthusiasm and back him to make a return to International cricket before too long.

    I was at the 5th Day in Cardiff this year, and I will never forget the resillience he showed on that day!!!

  • Comment number 3.

    Well said Monty and glad to see the BBC providing a voice to one of the nice guys of English cricket.

  • Comment number 4.

    what a top bloke, in an age where that appears all too rare

  • Comment number 5.

    Monty Panesar can yearn or whine all he wants about getting back on the England squad. But he won’t. It’s fait accompli. He has had his day in the sun and it did not pan out. Now it’s time for him to move on.

    This animated chap has a strange penchant to appeal irrationally for anything hitting the pads, even for deliveries drifting way down leg side; and he often gets right in the faces of the umpires in the process which would lead one to think that he’s patently ignorant of the laws of the game. Needless to say, his boorish antics are not only punishable by laws (as in excessive appealing), they have certainly cost England many turned down appeals that may have been adjudicated favorably otherwise.

    He was part of England’s problem; not the solution. Good riddance!


  • Comment number 6.

    Monty's move to Sussex and his current contract with Highveld Lions surely makes sense. He was for a period England's most reliable bowler, who could tie up an end or produce very destructive spells (eight times he has taken 5 wickets in a Test innings), but clearly he has lost his way. He seems to me to have suffered from carping criticisms, which led to a dramatic loss of confidence and form, but now he is working to get himself back to the top of his game, and surely that is what all English cricket fans would love to see. Ten wickets already for the Lions is a good start. Go Monty!

  • Comment number 7.

    As a Northants fan my understanding was his agent was summoned to the office at Wantage Road in early September and told his client was too expensive for the club, his deal for 2010 certainly not going ot be extended and could he possibly leave in september one year early, presumbly with no huge pay off. Monty did not want to leave at that point and was upset. But he since realised the move was the only option and accepted things. He could have held Northants to the contract and picked up his 140 grand plus, not the other way around, certainly no 'transfer fees' in the offing. He did the decent thing a decent guy woud do and we shall always be grateful. He really could have put the club in serious problems if he had stayed. Im baffeld why NCCC offered him such a huge deal in the first place though if he was to lose his Central Contract.

  • Comment number 8.

    Meteoric rise and meteoric fall. All cricket fans want Monty back at his best because he offers England an attacking option that they have not had since the mid-1980s. Monty at his best is a fundamental part of a balanced attack. Sadly, he has received much vitriol, in part from fans who resented his antics and in part from fans in other parts of the world who seemed to regard him as a traitor for turning his back on his heritage (strange, but sadly true...)

    That said, I am not sure how easy the way back is. There is now, after many years of a bare cupboard that allowed him to make a Test debut after just half a season at county level, he must now compete with Swann and Rashid (both clearly capable of scoring regular Test 50s) and the rising Tredwell. When Monty first entered the England set-up it was said that he needed to average 2 wickets more per Test than Ashley Giles to make up for his lack of contribution in other areas. How much truer that is now.

  • Comment number 9.

    Setting the record straight when is Monty Panesar goin to come in to the England sqaud?.

  • Comment number 10.

    When hell freezes over?

  • Comment number 11.

    If Monty gets his mojo back he will be in the 12. Two zeroes and 2-140 in his last Hiedveld Lions suggests he has a long way to go.

  • Comment number 12.

    Do you moonlight as a comedian?

  • Comment number 13.

    For those that say we all want Monty back to his best, can you not see that he has a very limited armoury and his best is not good enough?

    He is still playing the same, he hasn't become a bad player overnight, he just hasn't progressed. While Monty has been at a stand still others have worked him out and how to best play against him.

  • Comment number 14.

    Who cares? He is a miserable bloke and a rubbish spinner. I have a few thoughts-
    1. He makes a controversial comment or two to keep himself in the headlines. Am i being a bit obvious??
    2. He's playing bunny cricket in SA at the moment in the hope ( fruitless ) of getting selected for England should an injury or two occur in the main squad.
    3. As an Aussie, might i suggest that England sideline him until the next Ashes tour ( November isn't that far away ) and then give him one last shot??! Go on. We'll welcome him with open arms.

  • Comment number 15.


    Unfortunately Monty took his eye off the ball (eg bringing out DVDs). His game has suffered in the last 2 years from hype he couldn't live up to.

    Can he bounce back to his impressive 2006 form, or is it downhill ever since India chased a last day 380 against him?

  • Comment number 16.

    well, in panesar's case, i think he should not only learn how to ball but to learn the rudiments of how to bat at number 9 or 10 since these days it has been understood by many people that at number 9 or 10 there must be someone who can chip in at some crucial times with bat. so i sometimes think that why the national selectors ignore a man like ian blackwell and jamie dalrymper who can be very handy specially in the shorter format of the game with ball and bat altogether rather than going for tredwell, swann and rashid.

  • Comment number 17.

    Panasar is finished, not good enough to play in the England cricket team, there are better players than him!

  • Comment number 18.

    Any chance of getting another TMS blog soon? Bearing in mind that since this was published England have one the ODI series and played two warm up matches before a massive test series staring on Wednesday, its a bit of a shoddy effort.

    Apologies for the whinge, but its a backhanded compliment as well - I generally rather like the TMS blogs.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    Apperently, Monty was entitled to £130,000 a year county salary for 2010 for Northants under his central contract agreement by England and the ECB. The rules on central contracts state that should a player lose his England contract then for the 1st season after that his club have to pay that figure, the full 130,000 for the 1st season. It can then be re-negotiated down after that. Because we are a small county we did not have a hope of being able to afford to keep Monty.

    Sussex, allegedly, offered Monty only £100,000 and because they refused to pay Monty anymore and there were no other offers on the table at this point Northants had to pay Monty £30,000 to sell him to Sussex. I had my suspicions that we would have to pay up some of his contract to off-load him. This is good business at the end of the day to get rid of the 100k and a burnt out player and we wouldnt lay too much blame with the club.

    Im hearing from a good source Monty felt guilty about this and the £10,000 'may have been' part of the £30,000 that Northants gave him in the first place to allow his move to Sussex?? Bl**dy cheek! Not so magnaminous after all Mr Panesar. It looks like Mr Middlebrook will be his likely replacement.

  • Comment number 21.

    As a Northants fan my understanding was his agent was summoned to the office at Wantage Road in early September and told his client was too expensive for the club, his deal for 2010 certainly not going ot be extended and could he possibly leave in september one year early, presumbly with no huge pay off. Monty did not want to leave at that point and was upset. But he since realised the move was the only option and accepted things. He could have held Northants to the contract and picked up his 140 grand plus, not the other way around, certainly no 'transfer fees' in the offing. He did the decent thing a decent guy woud do and we shall always be grateful. He really could Improve vertical have put the club in serious problems if he had stayed. Im baffeld why NCCC offered him such a huge deal in the first place though if he was to lose his Central Contract.

 

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