Monty Panesar’s career as a premier left-arm spin bowler is in the balance after he was released by Sussex yesterday.
It seemed the height of poignancy that he should declare in a personal statement shortly afterwards that he still has ambitions to be the best spin bowler in the world.
The severance with the county he has served for four seasons was inevitable after he was fined £90 a fortnight ago for urinating on a bouncer in a Brighton nightclub. That incident came in a difficult season after he had been surprisingly called up for the England squad for the third Test against Australia but did not make the final XI.
Panesar, who has 48 Test caps, said: “I have endured a challenging time this year off the field and my frustrations have sometimes got the better of me professionally. I apologise for letting the club, my colleagues and my fans down.
“I am grateful to Sussex for allowing me to be released from my contract for 2014 and 2015 in order to explore other opportunities to further develop my cricket. I want to give myself the best chance of playing all forms of the game at the highest level.”
Panesar’s contract has been terminated with immediate effect, his position with the club being deemed untenable. It is unthinkable that he will be part of an England squad in the near future, though Sussex have agreed that he can go on loan for the rest of the season to Essex, who have six remaining matches in the Second Division of the LV Championship and still have an outside chance of securing promotion.
Panesar, 31, intends to start working again with the man he sees as his guru, Neil Burns of London County Mentoring, in the hope that he can help overcome “personal and professional problems”.
Panesar said: “I am determined to do whatever it takes to gain selection for England this winter. I want to become the best I can be. I believe that if I maintain the bowling progress I have made in recent weeks which enabled me to be selected for the Test squad at Old Trafford, I can fulfil my long-held ambition of becoming the best spin bowler in the world, over time.”
Andy Flower, England’s coach, has invariably said that he has had no problems with Panesar.
But there have been plenty of muttered asides from players about his erratic behaviour and, although the nightclub incident was unexpected, it showed that he has been a tortured soul of late.