Jump to Main ContentJump to Primary Navigation
Top

Monty Panesar

monty panesar.jpg

The spinner on bowling in the dark, Gangnam Style warm-ups and fancying himself as the next Mike Tyson

If proof were needed that being a top level sportsman requires as much mental strength as it does physical, take note of Monty Panesar. During three years of test exile, the 30-year-old spin bowler sought help from top sports psychologists to improve his confidence and, finding himself back in the England fold with an upcoming test series against New Zealand, ShortList finds it’s paid off.

When did you first undergo mental coaching?

Around two years ago when I didn’t feel my head was in the right place. I’ve been working with sports psychologist Dr Ken Jennings and [former cricketer] Neil Burns, who helped me lift the mental side of my game. The sessions have given me a strong identity, and I’ve learned what I bring to a cricket team. It’s a never-ending process.

Did you not seek help from within the team?

When I started my international career I was young and quite shy, and when things didn’t go well I was too afraid to approach people. A few years later, when I was more confident in talking to the captain or coach, I realised I didn’t want to. The guys I work with are outside the bubble; they focus on me.

What drills do you do with them?

We spend up to two hours going over basic techniques, reproducing and filming the bowling movement and looking at the data. I also keep a diary and write down my thoughts about how practice sessions have gone.

What unusual training methods have you undertaken?

I’m a bit of a training maverick. I get bored of cricket sessions, so sometimes I spend a day training with other sports. I recently spent the day with the Sydney Waratahs. That was intense. They had me pulling a 45kg weight on a sledge device. I didn’t take part in the contact stuff, though.

Have you attempted other sports?

I was invited to train with boxer Dillian Whyte. He had a fight to prepare for, so we couldn’t spar, but we hit pads together and I took on one of his protégés. I have surprisingly good hand-speed and reflexes. I’m still learning how to take a punch, but you never know, I could be the next Mike Tyson [laughs]. I already know my boxing name – Monty Cobra.

What’s the best training tip for a budding bowler?

Sometimes I dim the lights in a training room, so I’m bowling in near-darkness. It tests your perception, makes you trust your senses and helps hone your technique. Don’t worry if you don’t train indoors – try playing at dusk.

How important is a healthy dressing room?

Hugely. A lot was made of dressing room fractions when KP [Kevin Pietersen] left the squad last year, but now he’s back I think the lads have never been more together. Gangnam Style has helped – a few of us have danced around to that.

Do you have any mentors?

Shane Warne. We talk all the time. As a legendary spin bowler he can read the game really well, and he’ll be the first to tell me if there’s a part of my game that needs addressing.

Finally, do you keep a good diet?

Eating well is crucial to being a modern cricketer, especially if you want a prolonged career. At 30, I’m now stronger, quicker and more toned than I was at 20. I’ve even seen signs of a six pack of late. I just need to lay off the Häagen-Dazs.

Investec, the specialist bank and asset manager, is the title sponsor of Test Match cricket in England; investec.co.uk/cricket or @InvestecCricket

Related

freddie-flintoff.jpg

Freddie Flintoff

PA-10429821.jpg

Sport Confidential: Graeme Swann

alastair.jpg

Alastair Cook

Comments

More

#Pogba Lost His Head to the Emoji Keyboard Yesterday

When the Theatre of Dreams became the Theatre of Content

by James Bird
16 Jan 2017

Rio Ferdinand's reaction to Ibrahimovic's equaliser is perfect

He certainly enjoyed this one

16 Jan 2017

Remembering Pierre van Hooijdonk, the original football ‘striker’

What really happened at Nottingham Forest?

by Dave Fawbert
13 Jan 2017

People are remembering Graham Taylor's defence of John Barnes

"You're talking about another human being"

by Dave Fawbert
12 Jan 2017

Fifa has voted to expand the World Cup to 48 teams

More fun or devaluing the competition?

by Dave Fawbert
10 Jan 2017

Football's most mortifying forgotten social media profiles

The Bebos and the MySpaces they thought were lost to history

05 Jan 2017

The ultimate six-pack guide; how to get washboard abs

by Sam Diss
03 Jan 2017

"I was the goalkeeper that should've been chipped by Cantona in 1996"

by David Preece
22 Dec 2016

Watch Bayern Munich's Thiago play a weighted pass to Santa

Santa Baby, put the ball in front of my run, for me

by James Bird
22 Dec 2016

Football Manager scouts brutally assessed our crap lunchtime kickabout

Would our childhood dreams be ruined by the world's most popular football simulator?

by Tristan Cross
20 Dec 2016