Troubled spinner Monty Panesar “let the England shirt down” with the unsavoury incident that sparked his exit from English county side 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 Monday saw Sussex announce he’d played his last game for the south coast club.
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 uncapped Lancashire left-armer Simon Kerrigan called up instead as the second spinner behind off-break bowler Graeme Swann.
“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.
Cook said he was unaware of the extent of Panesar’s off-field problems but took heart from the way in which he’d 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 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,” Panesar, whose wife has reportedly filed for divorce, added.
Panesar has taken 164 wickets at 33.78 in 48 Tests, the last of those against New Zealand in Auckland in March.