A fine left-arm spinner, Panesar made a sensational start to his Northamptonshire career with match figures of 8-131 against Leicestershire in 2001.
His appearances were limited thereafter, though, as he was completing a degree in computer science at Loughborough University.
However, 46 first-class wickets at 21 in 2005 caught the eye of the England selectors, earning the tweaker a place in the squad for the two-Test series in India the following
Panesar, who became the first Sikh to play for England, enjoyed a dream start as he trapped icon Sachin Tendulkar lbw for a first Test scalp and, despite taking just five wickets in a 1-1 series draw, had established himself in the XI.
A fine summer followed as Panesar - quickly becoming a cult hero - bowled excellently against Sri Lanka and, in particular, Pakistan in unfavourable conditions.
That led to then-coach Duncan Fletcher dubbing his new star as the world’s best finger-spinner, which made his subsequent omission for the first two Ashes Tests in late 2006 all the more surprising.
With England 2-0 down, Panesar returned for the third encounter at Perth and instantly returned figures of 5-92, re-cementing his place in the process.
Despite being powerless to stop a 5-0 defeat, he became a consistent performer for England, particularly in home conditions, but was soon facing competition from Graeme Swann.
The latter out-bowled his partner in the two-Test series against India in 2008, beginning an ascent which saw him become the world’s premier spinner in all forms of the game.
Panesar kept his place for the first Test of the subsequent West Indies tour, but was dropped for Swann after England fell to an innings defeat.
Having appeared in tandem with Swann in the fifth match, Panesar returned for the opening encounter of the 2009 Ashes and hit the headlines by sharing a match-saving last-wicket stand with James Anderson in a famous draw.
A two-and-a-half year international hiatus followed, during which time he moved from Northants to Sussex, only for the spinner to explode back on to the scene as England fell to a 3-0 whitewash against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
He took 14 wickets at an average of 21.57 in two Tests and, later that winter, played in the first Test versus Sri Lanka.
Though not involved with England that summer, Panesar impressed in taking 53 championship wickets at 23.15 for Sussex and was included in the Test squad to face India.