Monty Panesar: World Cricket's Clown of the Month, August 2013
Sussex released a statement, announcing that Panesar would become a free agent at the end of September, but allowed him to join a club on loan for the remainder of the season.
The club’s investigation into the recent incident which took place on Monday 5th August has been concluded, and both parties have reached agreement. He will become a free agent as of Friday 27th September 2013. Additionally, Sussex has agreed to Monty’s request that he be allowed to play on loan for a club in Division Two of the County Championship until the end of this season.
Panesar wasn't the only one to take a leak in public in August, though: A number of the England players were also caught with their pants down during their Ashes celebrations at The Oval. The England and Wales Cricket Board subsequently issued an apology for that incident.
Sadly for Panesar, his incident was more serious and he therefore came in for the most criticism.
Here's a timeline of events, including what I want to see unfold from here.
Panesar Hits the Town and Is Caught with His Pants Down
Panesar was out in Brighton when it all went pear-shaped.
After he was thrown out of the Shoosh Club in King's Road Arches on the seafront, he was seen urinating onto the doormen from the promenade above the club.
He was then chased by them, issuing shouts of: "Help me! Help me!"
His spokesman apologised on Panesar's behalf and Sussex launched an "investigation." The cricketer ultimately accepted a fixed-penalty notice from the cops for his behaviour.
The Daily Mirror had a video of the incident, which showed Panesar cornered by the bouncers in a pizza joint. It's not very glamorous, but it is quite dramatic.
Panesar Is Dropped by England and Released by Sussex
Panesar was immediately dropped from England's Ashes squad.
He had had a rough season on the pitch with Sussex, taking just 23 wickets in 11 Championship games at an average of 40.39. His place in the county's team was already under threat, which wouldn't have given the England selectors much faith to start with.
His release from the county then saw him sign on with Essex.
In a statement, the cricketer apologised for the incident and thanked Sussex for binning him:
I have endured a challenging time this year off the field and my frustrations have sometimes got the better of me professionally. I apologise for letting the club, my colleagues and my fans down. I am grateful to Sussex for allowing me to be released from my contract for 2014 and 2015 in order to explore other opportunities to further develop my cricket. I want to give myself the best chance of playing all forms of the game at the highest level.
Panesar's Tough Time off the Field
Most notable among his off-field troubles, he separated from his wife of three years, a break-up which is reported to have been down to "insurmountable family issues" and left him devastated.
Panesar is usually rather reserved and quiet. There are no theatrics to his approach. He always has praise for his fellow teammates and rarely showers himself with glory.
Personal issues often do have an impact on sportsmen. There were signs earlier in the season that Panesar might be struggling, when he was dropped for poor performances and his attitude.
It shouldn't excuse the incident, but it certainly does provoke some sympathy for the player.
The Only Way Is Essex for Panesar
He is still struggling for wickets, taking 2-133 in the first innings against Northants and going wicketless in the second innings. He managed 2-56 in the second innings at Bristol, but his overall returns are sparse.
Essex said they were "delighted" to welcome him to the club for the rest of the season. Panesar is working with Neil Burns, one of his former mentors.
The spinner is determined to work his way back into the favour of the selectors, saying:
I have re-engaged with Neil Burns at London County Mentoring, to help to develop my cricket further, and I feel that Neil, along with a trusted support structure in place around me will help me put my personal and professional problems behind me and enable me to put all my energies and focus into the game and a new club. I am determined to do whatever it takes to gain selection for England this winter. I want to become the best I can be.
Even if Panesar doesn't end up taking buckets of wickets at Essex, one can only hope that they show some faith and patience in a talented player who is simply going through a rough time.
Panesar's England Career Should Be Revived
Panesar clearly wants to right his wrongs. His href="http://stats.espncricinfo.com/ci/engine/player/18655.html?class=1;template=results;type=bowling;view=match" target="_blank">performances in New Zealand weren't great, taking just five wickets on that tour. But he showed promise on the turning tracks in India earlier in the year, when he took 11 wickets in Mumbai and five in Kolkata.
Panesar is unlikely to ever challenge Graeme Swann for his spot as first-choice spinner, but he is an apt backup. With a little bit of coaching and and TLC, Panesar can—and should—win his place back in the side.
It is up to England's management to show sympathy and ensure that such a road is open to him, though.