Left-arm spinner Monty Panesar says he hasn’t given up hopes of resuming his professional cricket career, and says he can still bowl as well as he did in his England days.
The 38-year-old played the last of his 50 Tests in Australia in 2013, and hasn’t played county cricket since 2016. He has made noises about wanting to return to the fold on several occasions in the intervening period, sending letters to all first-class counties enquiring about trials in 2018 and offering himself to league cricket clubs in 2019, and has now reiterated his desire to make a comeback.
“I would love to play professional cricket again,” he said on the Monty Panesar & The Specialist Fielders podcast. “I think I’ve got so much more left in me. I wanted to take 1,000 first-class wickets, I took 700, so there’s still 300 left in me.”
Panesar’s career till date has been somewhat marred by controversy, often alcohol-related. He was released by Sussex at the end of the 2013 season after being arrested for urinating on a nightclub bouncer, but says that he has since given up drinking altogether, and is still able to bowl as well as he did in his England days, when he took 167 Test wickets at 34.71 apiece, including 12 Test five-fors.
“That’s the hard bit,” he said. “Part of you thinks, I wish I couldn’t right now bowl as well as I did when I play for England. But actually, I can still bowl like that. It makes it difficult. I spoke to some of my friends and they’re like, ‘The decision [to quit is] really easy. I get up one morning, my body’s really stiff, I can’t touch my toes…’ Me, I’m like, ‘My hands go beyond my toes, I’m flexible, fit.’ I’m thinking, ‘I gotta give it another go.’
“But I’m 38, and with coronavirus I’m thinking, ‘Is there going to be a team out there?’ They say, ‘If you don’t try, you never know.’ Someone could just give me the opportunity and then you never know…”