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Cricket: Monty aims to make mark at Hornchurch

PUBLISHED: 15:00 26 January 2018

Monty Panesar has signed for Hornchurch (pic Lee Power)

Monty Panesar has signed for Hornchurch (pic Lee Power)

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England Test bowler Monty Panesar hopes to return to county cricket after agreeing to join Hornchurch for the 2018 Essex League season.

England's Monty Panesar (second right) celebrates bowling out Australia's Michael Clarke during the 2013 Ashes Test in Adelaide (pic Anthony Devlin/PA) England's Monty Panesar (second right) celebrates bowling out Australia's Michael Clarke during the 2013 Ashes Test in Adelaide (pic Anthony Devlin/PA)

The left-arm spinner, who took 167 wickets in 50 Tests, met his new team-mates at their Harrow Lodge clubhouse this week and is looking forward to helping the Premier Division outfit move forward.

He said: “I still have ambitions to play county cricket and a desire to make a comeback in the professional game, so I thought it was important to find a club where I can get the best out of myself and also the best for the club.

“I need to be at a good club so I can be motivated and perform and be challenged. Also, I need to be fit and I will be when the season starts, but my ambition and desire is still there to play professional county cricket.

“They’ve said they want to do well this year, they want to be in the top half of the division and I will try my best to help the club as much as I can.

England's Monty Panesar catches New Zealand's Ross Taylor off his own bowling during a Test match at Eden Park, Auckland (pic Anthony Devlin/PA) England's Monty Panesar catches New Zealand's Ross Taylor off his own bowling during a Test match at Eden Park, Auckland (pic Anthony Devlin/PA)

“I’m looking forward to coaching the youngsters, being involved with that. I’ve done my level three ECB coaching badge so it gives me an opportunity to work with the youngsters and learn a bit more about myself, how I can coach and also how I can help a young team to get the best we can.

“The ambition is to have the best season they can, hopefully we as a team can do really well.

“I’ve spoken to members, the chairman and club captain and it seems like a great opportunity for me to help a club move higher up the league and hopefully win it, that would be brilliant, and also help the youngsters, bowling with them and helping them to improve their cricket.”

Luton-born Panesar broke into county cricket with Northamptonshire in 2001 and made his Test debut in 2006 against India.

Head coach Duncan Fletcher described him as “the best finger spinner in the world” early in his career and Panesar was one of Wisden’s five cricketers of the year in 2007.

Memorably, he helped save the first Ashes Test in 2009 in a dogged last-wicket stand with Jimmy Anderson in Cardiff, before going on to have spells with Sussex and Essex and returning to Northants in 2016.

The 35-year-old has a career haul of 983 wickets in Tests (167), ODIs (24), first-class (709) and list A (83) matches, according to Cricket Archive, which includes two 10-wicket hauls in Test matches.

And after speaking about feelings of paranoia and anxiety following a loss of confidence, he played for Liverpool club side Wallasey last year, adding: “It was a good standard, very good, each team had a pro, so I enjoyed playing at Wallasey.

“But Friday evening I had to go and travel and then come back Sunday morning. The travelling was a lot for me.

“Hornchurch were quite interested and it’s only an hour, not too far, so I thought it was a good opportunity.”

Panesar was signed up to appear in popular TV show ‘Dancing On Ice’ but suffered a broken ankle during training, forcing him to pull out.

Having spent weeks in plaster, he is now stepping up his recovery and is confident of being ready for the new season at Hornchurch.

He said: “We’re doing good. I’m on the anti-gravity treadmill at the Saxon Clinic in Milton Keynes. BMI Healthcare are really helping me to get the best treatment there and I’m speaking to (head physio) Barry Goudriaan at Northants to help me be sure I’m cricket fit.

”By that time I should be. There’s plenty of time, I should be fit, up and running and I look forward to a hot summer. We’re in January now and in six to eight weeks I should be up and running.”

Hornchurch are set to host Orsett in the first round of the Essex League Cup on April 28, with the new league campaign due to start two weeks later.

And Panesar hopes to make his mark for Billy Gordon’s side to help reignite his own career, adding: “My desire and motivation is there and Hornchurch is a stepping stone towards that. I want to help the club as well. For me it’s about how can I help Hornchurch, that’s quite important to me.

“I was interested at the start and my agent said they’re very keen, very serious. I thought it’s a good opportunity, I’ve played at Essex and the travelling is less, it meets my objective.

“Hopefully I can help the club with whatever desires they have next season, hopefully it’s not a huge list!

“I believe that once I’m fully fit I am able to demonstrate that I can perform at my best and make a comeback in the professional game.”

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