Eden Gardens is paradise for Panesar
Monty Panesar is excited about the prospect of featuring at Eden Gardens and again proving he is not a “luxury” player.
The left-arm spinner’s Test-best 11 scalps in last week’s 10-wicket win at Mumbai levelled the series with India ahead of the third Test of four in Kolkata, starting tomorrow.
With a capacity of 90,000, Eden Gardens is known throughout the cricketing world and Panesar wants to make his mark there as he did at the Wankhede Stadium.
Speaking exclusively to ecb.co.uk, he said: “We’ve got plenty more challenges ahead of us as a team.
“So Mumbai now is history and it’s time to emotionally be calm and as a team focus ourselves towards Kolkata and the major priority is to stay close and tight as a unit.
“I think Kolkata excites me because it’s one of the iconic grounds in world cricket. But I think what’s helped me to produce good performances and this career-best performance is not to take things for granted.
“I’ve got to focus on quality preparation and I hope the selectors continue with the policy of playing two spinners in the next Test match.”
The 30-year-old’s bowling has long been his strength, but he suffered a dip in confidence when Graeme Swann became England’s first-choice spinner in early 2009.
Panesar’s five Tests since - four this year - have been alongside former Northamptonshire team-mate Swann, whose self-confidence Panesar has learned to emulate through working with London County Cricket Club.
“Some people question my cricket,” he admitted. “They think I’m a luxury player despite the efforts and the hard work that I’ve put in to my fielding and batting.
“With this in mind, I over the last couple of years went back to basics with my bowling and worked on what was my strengths and not try and be the bowler that everyone expected me to be, and kind of invested time on and off the pitch with myself.
“That’s something I did with London County mentoring organisation with Neil Burns and Dr Ken Jennings where they worked with me and helped me to identify who I am as a person and what I can bring to a cricket team, more importantly.
“That’s really helped me during difficult periods. In a sporting career there are highs and lows, and I think Burnsy always supported me and backed me and created that belief in me.”
In late 2009 Panesar, who had played only in LV= County Championship Division Two, joined Sussex and next year helped them return to the top flight where they have been since.
“I think what I’ve developed is emotional resilience, playing under pressure, and I understand that moving away from your processes is not the right thing - and trying to focus on my own processes and seeing how things unfold from there is more important than my preparation coming into the Test,” he added.