The Ashes: Monty Panesar apologises following nightclub urinating incident


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The Independent Online

Monty Panesar has apologised after being fined for urinating on a nightclub bouncer. He issued the briefest of statements which attempted at the same time to convey the affection in which he is, or was, held by England supporters.

"Monty would like to apologise unreservedly for any offence caused," it said. Note the use only of the first name in the announcement. There is only one Monty in English cricket, the shy bloke with a turban, one of the most hopeless fielders in the modern game, who has played 48 Tests and was in the squad for the third Test at Old Trafford. Good old Monty.

Panesar was issued with a spot fine after an incident following his ejection from a Brighton club, Shooshh, when other customers complained. He then went to the promenade above the club and urinated on a doorman. Police were called and Panesar was taken back to the club, where he was issued with a spot fine of £90 for being drunk and disorderly.

Sussex County Cricket Club, which he joined from Northamptonshire in 2010, issued a statement to say the matter was under full investigation. Although he is not a centrally contracted player, it is an embarrassing occurrence for the England and Wales Cricket Board.

There have been hints of occasional eccentric behaviour by Panesar for some time. Andy Flower, England's coach, has directly denied that there have been any problems whatever.

Occasionally, team-mates have let slip that Panesar has turned up in an odd frame of mind. He tends to be something of a loner while on tour and, although he is sometimes a trifle enigmatic, he remains eminently approachable. Two years ago he was arrested after an alleged argument with his wife in a car park in Luton. A passer-by reported the row and he was questioned at a police station and released without charge.

Panesar was England's first-choice spinner for three years between 2006 and early 2009 before he was overtaken by Graeme Swann. Although his skill and accuracy were never in question, most observers felt that his game had not developed sufficiently.

After he was dropped by England his game went backwards and in 2009 he took only 22 first-class wickets at 54.32 runs each. The move to Sussex appeared to have regenerated his game and his appetite, and in 2012 he played his first Test for three years.

Late last year the rejuvenation seemed to be complete when he and Swann joined forces in Mumbai to help England achieve one of their greatest Test victories. After the tourists had lost the first Test in Ahmedabad they came back in the second, with the spin twins taking all but one of the wickets to fall.

Panesar retained his place for the rest of the series and then in New Zealand when Swann was injured. But he was slightly exposed while operating as the lone spinner and never looked at ease on surfaces which were not exactly helpful.

His form had been fitful for Sussex this summer and it was something of a surprise when he was picked in the squad for the Test at Old Trafford.