Former England star Monty Panesar leaves Essex

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Former England spinner Monty Panesar must search for a fourth county, after being released by Essex.

Panesar, one of four players set to leave the club, discovered he is on the move again on the day England announced a 16-man squad to face Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

The 33-year-old slow left-armer has not played for his country since winning his 50th cap in Melbourne on Boxing Day two winters ago - the penultimate Test of England's 2013/14 Ashes whitewash defeat.


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Panesar was England's leading wicket-taker on their last trip to the Middle East to take on Pakistan, which resulted in another whitewash - 3-0 this time, in early 2012.

He has had his troubles on and off the field through much of the intervening time, however - most notably the circumstances leading to his departure from Sussex to join Essex on loan in 2013.

Panesar was fined for drunkenly urinating on a bouncer, after being asked to leave a nightclub in Brighton, in August that year - and was consequently released from his contract at Hove.

After two full seasons at Essex, he is leaving alongside Saf Imtiaz, Matt Salisbury and Greg Smith.

The departures come at the end of a season which, amid much change at Chelmsford, also saw the announcement at the start of this month that long-serving coach Paul Grayson has ended his association with the county.

Once England's first-choice spinner, Panesar has 167 Test wickets to his name and more than 700 in a first-class career which began at Northamptonshire.

But England's selection of young all-rounder Zafar Ansari for the forthcoming tour of the UAE, as a third spin option behind Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid, shows how far down the pecking order Panesar has fallen.

If he is ever to return to his best, he is hoping a winter abroad - but not with England - could be the first step.

Panesar's personal coach Neil Burns told the Daily Telegraph: "The plan is to excel at top-level cricket again, (and) the number one thing is to play some quality cricket overseas in the new year to give himself a clear indication of where he is in relation to getting back to Test cricket.

"It is then about making a decision about where he will play first-class cricket to give him the best chance of doing that.

"It will be about the philosophy of the club and, in terms of Test selection, playing for a first division club on good pitches where a spinner is more likely to bowl a volume of overs."

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