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Updated: England spin star Monty Panesar joins Essex until the end of the season
4:26pm Monday 19th August 2013 in Sport
PAUL GRAYSON believes Monty Panesar can be Essex’s “final piece of the jigsaw” and has backed him to fire them to promotion and book his spot on the Ashes tour this winter.
The 31-year-old is set to make his debut against former club Northants in the Championship at the start of the Colchester Cricket Festival at Castle Park this morning.
The England spinner has been brought in on loan until the end of the season after Sussex announced earlier he was to leave them next month after he was the subject of investigation for urinating on nightclub bouncers earlier this month.
“We were made aware that Monty was available a few days ago, and once we knew he would come it was a no brainer for us,” said Grayson.
“He has been brought in to replace Tom Craddock in our squad, because Tom has been spending a lot of time in Yorkshire with his mum, who is not well, and his head is not in the right place for cricket.
“Monty is a world-class spinner and we believe he can be the final piece of the jigsaw for us.
“He still feels he has something to offer England and if he wants a place on the Ashes tour this winter we will give him the opportunity to do that by bowling plenty of overs for us.
“From our point of view, he’s been brought in to help us achieve promotion, and if he can do that then everybody will be a winner.”
Panesar has issued a statement apologising for letting Sussex, his team-mates and their supporters down following his indiscretion outside a Brighton nightclub, which led to a police fine.
He said: “I have endured a challenging time this year off the field and my frustrations have sometimes got the better of me professionally. I have re-engaged with Neil Burns at London County Mentoring, to help to develop my cricket further.
“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.”
Panesar, who has 48 Test caps, had two years remaining on his Sussex contract, but will become a free agent at the end of the season.
He was included in the squad for third Ashes Test against Australia at Old Trafford but did not feature, and Lancashire's uncapped Simon Kerrigan has been preferred as the second spinner in the squad for the fifth Test at The Oval.