Essex and England spinner Monty Panesar rekindling his love for cricket
Expect a few trademark jigs of delight from Monty Panesar this season, should the England international get in the groove for Essex.
The spinner has suffered a difficult last year or so, on and off the pitch, and managed just five wickets during England’s tour of New Zealand last year, before failing to make an impact in the recent Ashes debacle.
However, there were signs that Panesar was beginning to rekindle the old magic towards the end of last season, during a six-week loan spell at Chelmsford.
Now a fully-fledged Essex player, Panesar is looking forward to benefiting from an extended stay in Australia, during which time he kept his bowling ticking over, before returning to the UK refreshed and ready to go.
“After the Ashes I played grade cricket at Sydney, playing for Western Suburbs and I was also training at Sydney University, facilitated by Bruce Ross, who is the president there,” said Panesar.
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“I also had a couple of other trainers helping me out and it was suggested that I should do that for two or three months, to prepare for Essex and so I could get back to loving my bowling and rekindle that enthusiasm and energy that I have.
“If I get really excited this season, you may even see me do a few of my celebrations!
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“That is the place I want to get too and mentally, I feel good at the minute.”
Should Panesar return to the sort of form that saw him burst on to the international scene in 2006, then Essex will have a potent weapon in an attack which will also include the prolific David Masters, Suffolk youngsters Tymal Mills and Reece Topley and former Lancashire bowler, England international Saj Mahmood.
“We have a good attack and Dave Masters leads it with his experience,” said Panesar.
“We all work around him and towards the end of last season we all fitted in well.
Reece (Topley) and Ty (Tymal Mills) are good, young seamers, while we have also got the pace of Saj Mahmood, so we have a good depth and mixture.”
Panesar should be in Paul Grayson’s first XI for the opening Division Two LV= County Championship game of the season, at home to Derbyshire, alongside fellow seasoned campaigners, Alastair Cook and Ravi Bopara, as Essex look to win promotion to Division One and also be in contention for NatWest t20 Blast and One-Day Cup honours.
He is looking forward to the challenges the new campaign will bring.
“I thrive on that responsibility and I like to be given the opportunity to play in important passages of the game,” added Panesar.
“I enjoy the battles. I like to overcome them and win.
“The aim is for the team to build some good momentum in the early weeks of the season and try and carry it through.”