London – Former England spinner Monty Panesar says he wants to return to cricket having been cured of the “paranoia/schizophrenia” which bedevilled him over the past few years.
The 37-year-old – who became a bit of a cult hero at his peak taking 167 wickets in 50 Tests – told the Daily Mail he had been helped enormously by former England captain Mike Brearley, who is a respected psychoanalyst.
His career has declined since being unceremoniously let go by Sussex in 2013 – the same year he made the last of his Test appearances – which came after he urinated on a nightclub bouncer.
Panesar’s depression started to spiral and contributed towards an unhappy stint at Essex and had a brief spell at Northamptonshire, where he started his career and first came to national attention.
However, since being released by them in 2016 he has yet to find another county willing to gamble on him.
“My parents became worried. They wanted me to see someone,” he said.
“I had always thought strong people couldn’t have a problem.
“My cricket had always gone the way I had planned it, but suddenly things started going in a direction I hadn’t experienced since childhood.
“It was a guy called Peter Gilmore who said I was suffering from paranoia/schizophrenia and that shocked me massively.
“Mike Brearley told me to be careful about the things I was saying to myself. Some experts thought I’d never get better but I knew I could fight it, come through it.”
Panesar, who was recruited by Australia to serve as a spin-bowling consultant for their 2017 tour of India, says the image of him being a bad boy is wrong.
“I love the game. I’m not a bad egg in the dressing room, I’m actually a nice guy,” he said.
“I want people to remember the good Monty, but it takes a while to eradicate bad memories. It’s like I’m a fireball and people are worried that if they get too close to me they’ll get burnt.
“I’m mentally and physically 100 per cent back to my best and I’ve been good for the last two years.”