Monty Panesar has been tipped for an England comeback by his Essex team mate Greg Smith.
As England continue their search for a permanent spinner, the all-rounder insists former fan favourite Panesar is ready to learn from his mistakes and earn a recall.
When bowling at his best, Smith said, “there’s no doubt Panesar is probably one of the best spinners in the world."
However, he has struggled to do that consistently this season, or even last. In fact, since the gradual die-out of the ‘Monty Mania’ that swept the country during his rapid rise to fame, his career has been plagued by disciplinary issues.
Only last month, the spinner was dropped by his county for a “breach of rules”, mainly for failing to turn up for a team meeting.
In the past, he has also been dropped from an Ashes squad after urinating on a nightclub bouncer, a saga that eventually saw his contract with Sussex terminated.
Essex made a bold move in offering him a second chance, and though he has not steered clear of problems entirely, he is once again playing the kind of cricket that made his signature a worthwhile risk.
The 32-year-old took two wickets on the final day as his side beat Hampshire in an exciting contest in the LV County Championship last week. Such a performance may have gone a long way to reigniting his international chances, but a recall would require him to oust Moeen Ali from the current England squad.
Other spinning options
Even apart from Ali, Simon Kerrigan appears the preferred option at present as England’s back-up spinner. Ali has also proven himself to be nifty with the bat, another factor that could count against Panesar.
Nonetheless, his overall game, particularly his fielding, has come on leaps and bounds since his last Three Lions outing. Mentality then, is the chief question when it comes to any potential call-up.
Past misdemeanors should not count against him, as Gary Ballance has shown with an impressive performance in the second Test at Lords, in spite of making the headlines for the wrong reasons earlier in the week.
Even taking some of Panesar’s less impressive Test performances into account, his record is still the best of any current English spinner. Having taken 167 wickets in 50 matches, the bowler – who earned his first cap while still at Northants – has always appeared unfazed by the pressure of playing for England, at least on the field.