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Thursday, Sep 19, 2019

‘Politics interests me’: England cricketer Monty Panesar wants to run for London mayor

Keen to return to fitness and the England team, Monty Panesar plays in county cricket but is looking forward to a career in politics beyond cricket.

indians-abroad Updated: Sep 14, 2019 09:11 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar
Prasun Sonwalkar
Hindustan Times, London
England cricketer Monty Panesar addressing members of the Indian Journalists Association in London, September 13, 2019.
England cricketer Monty Panesar addressing members of the Indian Journalists Association in London, September 13, 2019. (HT Photo )
         

Out of favour England spinner Monty Panesar, who admits he is better known as the bowler who took Sachin Tendulkar’s wicket in his first Test in 2006, wants to be the mayor of London after his career on the field is over.

Keen to return to fitness and the England team, Panesar, 37, plays in county cricket and “would love” to be able to play in Ranji Trophy if rules allowed, but is looking forward to a career in politics beyond cricket.

“It is still early days, but I hope Sadiq Khan (current mayor) will pass the baton to me as the mayor of London. Politics does interest me. We haven’t decided the party I will join because I am still playing and hope to return to the Test team,” he told members of the Indian Journalists Association on Friday.

Panesar went through a low patch after being dropped from the England team and admits that his behaviour was not that expected of a cricketer at the top level. He also regrets that mental health is not something the Asian community in the UK discusses openly.

“It’s a matter of ‘izzat’ (honour). Our people say don’t talk about it, as if it doesn’t exist in our community. But isolation is the breeding ground of mental health issues. Everyone goes through a rainy day. I was in denial, but the way out of it is to talk about it,” he said.

According to Panesar, Tendulkar will always be the ‘god’ of not only cricket but all sport because of the magnitude of his impact on India: “He single-handedly lifted the entire nation, when India badly needed role models. He was also a role model for us British Asians,” he said.

Paying tributes to the Indian team’s level of fitness under captain Virat Kohli, Panesar said despite major achievements of Kohli, it is Tendulkar who, in his estimation, will remain the greatest of all sportsmen.

On his cricket journey in England, Panesar said he was more a victim of stereotyping than racism. “An Indian is always considered a spin bowler, a West Indian-origin player is invariably seen as a fast bowler, nothing else,” he said.

“Of course, racism exists, it is like oxygen in the air, but I have been stereotyped as a spin bowler who can only bat at number 11. I should have worked on my batting, should have moved with the game, which changed quickly (in recent years),” he said.

Panesar’s journey is set out in his recent book “The Full Monty”.

On being compared early in his career to Indian spin legend Bishan Singh Bedi, Panesar said Bedi was much more skilful than him: “He could hang the ball in the air and make it accelerate off the pitch after landing. It is a beautiful art.”

First Published: Sep 13, 2019 19:27 IST