Panesar poised for Lions duty
Monty Panesar will relish the opportunity to return to India with the England Lions, according to ECB performance director David Parsons.
The left-arm spinner was dropped from the England team for the one-day series in New Zealand after struggling on the recent tour of Sri Lanka.
Panesar will instead fly out to India later this month as part of a Lions squad that will compete in the Duleep Trophy, India's premier domestic competition, before joining up with the Test party in New Zealand at the end of February.
Parsons, who will take charge of the Lions tour, claims it is a move which can only benefit the player.
“He didn’t have the best of times in Sri Lanka, even though he finished as England’s leading wicket-taker,” said Parsons, referring to Panesar’s haul of eight wickets at a cost of more than 50 apiece.
“It has been discussed with Monty, and we all see this as an opportunity for him to work on his game,” he told ecb.co.uk.
“He’ll also be able to get some competitive games under his belt so he’s ready for the Test matches in New Zealand.
"India is a really good place for players to go to test themselves, so I'm sure Monty will benefit from it along with everyone else."
Parsons, who filled the role of ECB spin bowling coach before being appointed in his current role in December, is keen to renew his partnership with Panesar, widely acknowledged as England’s premier slow bowler.
“I’ve been fortunate to work with him over the last few years, and I’m looking forward to doing the same again in India,” he added.
“Monty’s the sort of guy who wants to play all the time, so I’m sure he’s looking forward to the trip.
“India was his first tour with the senior England side in early 2006, and he did well then. England go out there again later this year so it will stand him in good stead for that.”
Andrew Flintoff could make his comeback from his injury for the Lions but Parsons insists he will not be rushed into action.
The all-rounder is making progress in his recovery from a fourth operation on his left ankle in October, raising the prospect of his turning out for the Lions ahead of the international summer in England.
“If he was fit enough to play, and it was felt it was right that he got some match practice, then he might play,” said Parsons.
“Freddie is undertaking his rehab programme at the moment, so the decision will be made closer to the time. But this gives him another option.
“The primary thing is that Freddie gets fit. If he’s not ready to play he certainly won’t play.
“But if he can get some matches under his belt, and some warm-weather training, then that might be good for him.”