England captain encouraged by call put to him by left-arm spinner, severely punished for urinating in public after being thrown out of a bar.
Cook backs Panesar to come good for England cricket once again
LONDON // Monty Panesar, the left-arm spinner, "let the England shirt down" with the unsavoury incident that sparked his exit from Sussex, captain Alistair Cook said, but insisted he could revive his Test career.
Panesar, 31, was fined by police for urinating in public after he was ejected from a Brighton nightclub on August 5 and on Monday saw Sussex announce he had played his last game for the south coast club.
The experienced left-armer was sent out on loan to Essex, Cook's county, and on Wednesday he was representing his new side against Northamptonshire, where Panesar made his name, in the County Championship. He took an economical one wicket for 72 runs in 34 overs.
Panesar was not included in England's squad for the fifth and final Ashes Test at The Oval starting on Wednesday despite the south London ground's reputation for taking turn, with Simon Kerrigan, the uncapped Lancashire left-armer, called up instead as the second spinner behind Graeme Swann, the off-break bowler.
"First and foremost, certainly what's happened over the last couple of weeks has been disappointing," Cook said at The Oval on Tuesday.
"I've spoken to him – he actually rang me – which shows he knows he's done wrong and let the England shirt down a bit.
"But he recognises he needs a bit of a change in his life which I think is always the first step," added opening batsman Cook, already guaranteed of a series win against Australia with England 3-0 up and one to play.
"The bottom line is that we need Monty back bowling as well as he can bowl. The way back is wickets and he knows that. We know he has that pedigree in international cricket.
"Luckily, I'm going to get a nice good look at him at Essex," said Cook, who insisted he had played no part in Panesar's loan move.
"I didn't know. I thought he was going to Northants!" added Cook, whose England commitments will prevent him playing county cricket alongside Panesar this season.
Cook said he was unaware of the extent of Panesar's off-field problems but took heart from the way in which he had called him to apologise.
"I didn't think they were as bad as that. I don't really know all the details but he has that side of his life that he definitely needs to get right because we know what an off-field life can do to you.
"It wasn't the most pleasant phone call for him to make – to the England captain to apologise.
"But we know the class Monty has as a bowler and what he can do when he gets it right. We've seen that time and again. He just has to go back to basics, work as hard as he can and do what he does best – which is taking wickets."
In a statement confirming his departure from Sussex, whom he joined in 2010, Panesar said on Monday: "I apologise for letting the club, my colleagues and my fans down. 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 have endured a challenging time this year off the field and my frustrations have sometimes got the better of me professionally," added Panesar, whose wife has reportedly filed for divorce.
Panesar has taken 164 wickets at 33.78 in 48 Tests, the last of those against New Zealand in Auckland in March.
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