FORMER England spinner Monty Panesar has opened up about his struggles with mental health issues in a revealing conversation with ex-England captain Nasser Hussain.
Panesar has opened up about some of his darkest days, including the time he urinated towards a bouncer and when he fought against his Essex teammates during a session at the gym.
The 37-year-old was once England’s Ashes hero in 2009, but paranoia saw him derailing a career that held so much promise.
“If everything had gone the way I wanted, I don’t think there would have been problems,” Panesar was quoted as saying by Daily Mail. “It’s when you’re fighting for what you want that you put extra pressure on yourself and are not kind to yourself.
“I wanted my name to be in lights with the best cricketers in the world. That was the dream. When that didn’t happen, I entered a new phase of my life and doubts began to creep in.”
He started believing everyone was against him, and paranoia affected his confidence and his game. “I thought the fielders and umpires were against me and I got lower and lower. I started to think the fans were laughing at me. The reality was everyone wanted me to do well and wanted me to love the game again,” he said.
He told Hussain that he was with former Australian spinner Greg Matthews and friends when it was suggested he see a hypnotherapist. They were all talking and Panesar said he couldn’t join in. “I couldn’t connect to reality. I didn’t understand,” he said.
In 2013, he received a penalty notice from police for being drunk and disorgerly after he was spotted urinating towards a bouncer at a bar in Brighton.
“It was only a trickle to one side. It wasn’t quite as bad as it sounds. I’d had too much to drink. I didn’t think it was anything major. Then my agent told me a story was coming out. I was shocked,” Panesar told Hussain.
“Then I thought: ‘What am I going to say to my mum and dad?’ The thing is, everyone drinks in Punjabi culture, but we do it to enjoy with family and friends. Not to behave in that way.”
He sought treatment after his parents urged him to seek help.
Today, Panesar is mentally and physically back to his best, and he once again wants to have a first-class cricket career.
“Even yesterday I was ringing up coaches. They probably think, ‘Oh no, it’s Monty again’, but I want to convince the doubters. I just want to spin that ball. I could easily pack in but I’ve got to chase my dream.”