Monty joins list of Freddie fans
A shy Monty Panesar felt like an outsider during a dinner with senior England players in 2002 and left without spending much time, but four years later and after becoming the first sikh to play for England, the Northamptonshire lad can't stop raving about the team and especially stand-in captain Andrew Flintoff.
"Fantastic. What a captain," Panesar was quoted by the Observer as saying.
Panesar said playing against a tough team like India and that too without the top five players, including the regular captain and vice-captain, was a huge task but the spirit of unity kept them going.
"We were a young team playing against world-class players and we all stuck together and helped each other out," he said recalling the gruelling Test series in which they won their first Test in India in 21 years.
The left-arm spinner was especially impressed with his captain, who he said was always there whenever someone needed a word of encouragement.
"Andrew Flintoff was great. He led from the front," he said.
Panesar said Freddie was the one who motivated him throughout the series and helped him keep his chin up even in asking conditions.
"Every ball he would say just keep fighting hard and he personally gave me a lot of motivation," he revealed.
"It was my first experience playing with him — and playing with my other team-mates. It was great to be part of that. The whole experience has been amazing," Panesar said.
The bowler, who took Sachin Tendulkar on his debut, said he would always cherish the memories of the tour.
"This last week has been one of the best of my life. It was a little sad to say goodbye, having been with the players so long," he said.