Monty Panesar has revealed that Geoffrey Boycott gave him the best advice about what to do when his abilities were questioned: tell the critics to fuck off.
The former England left-arm spinner, who has admitted to mental health problems as his career has waned, said that he had been badly affected when Shane Warne made his comment that he hadn’t played 30 Tests, he’d played the same Test 30 times.
But Boycott, known for his no-nonsense, Republic of Yorkshire-influenced approach to plain speaking, told Panesar: “Monty I’ve got two words of advice for you and the second is off – you can work out what the first one is. Just tell them that. Because you are a natural cricketer, a natural bowler. And just bowl the way you want to bowl.”
Panesar said he had been badly hurt by Warne’s words because he thought there was a spinners’ “fraternity”. He said: “I thought spinners were from the same cloth and help each other out. Why is Shane Warne publicly saying this sort of comment? Then the media are coming at me about my variation – I was perfectly fine, it was taking me into a path I didn’t need to be.
“I don’t think the UK media would have scrutinised me that way. It didn’t help my career. Everyone started to question ‘does he vary the ball?’ or ‘is he just bowling the same way?’ And after that I started putting pressure on myself: after I bowled a few good deliveries, do I need to bowl a slower ball? Am I tweaking the field? It distracted me.”
In the conversation with Nasser Hussain and Rob Key on Sky Sports’ The Cricket Show, Panesar, who is in India to play in a Legends tournament promoting road safety, added that he was confused by coaching jargon as well once in the England set-up.
“That jump to international cricket was a big one,” said Panesar, who last played international Test cricket in the Boxing Day Ashes Test of 2013. “I couldn’t really explain to the coaches what my process was because I didn’t really have one. What does a process mean? I just pick up a ball and turn it. That’s how simple cricket was in my mind.”
Panesar, who is now studying for an MA in sports journalism in London when he might still, at the age of 38, have been bamboozling Indian batsmen in Ahmedabad, left Northamptonshire for spells at Essex and Sussex as he looked to revive his career but that finally came to a halt after a few games in minor counties cricket for Bedfordshire in 2017.