Monty Panesar and Olly Stone prepare for village cricket

Home » Monty Panesar and Olly Stone prepare for village cricket

Former England bowler Monty Panesar has joked that his upcoming season playing village cricket could reignite his international career.

The left-arm spinner announced last year he would be turning out for East Anglian Premier League side Great Witchingham in Norfolk.

The club also signed Nottinghamshire CCC’s Olly Stone and Adelaide Strikers batter Jake Weatherald.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Panesar.

“Hopefully I’m going to get the groundsman to produce some turning wickets for me.

“When I’m doing my speaking engagements all across the country, everyone wants to know ‘where is Great Witchingham?’ and I’m telling them it’s near Norwich – it’s definitely putting the club on the map.

“There’s some really big signings and they want to make a big success of it.

“Who knows, if I have a really good season, maybe I could come back in the professional game. We don’t have many spinners in the first-class arena – you know, if James Anderson can play Test cricket, why not Monty Panesar at the age of 41?”

Panesar took 167 wickets in 50 Tests but has not played professionally since leaving Northamptonshire in 2016. He was part of the England side that won the Ashes in 2009.

Talk of an England return for Panesar may be slightly tongue-in-cheek, but for 30-year-old Stone there is a real desire to get back into the national set-up.

Norwich-born Stone has played three Tests in a so-far injury-hit career and has not played internationally since a one-day international against South Africa in January last year, with his last Test match appearance coming against New Zealand in the summer of 2021.

“I’d love to still play for England,” he said.

“I had a frustrating season last year with my hamstring – they’ve told me to go and put a few games together which is understandable.

“If I can do that, the door’s never shut – if I never play another game I’m fortunate to have played in all three formats for England, but I’ve definitely not closed that door and I’m working hard to get back in that England shirt.”

Playing for Great Witchingham, even it is just the odd game, will be a homecoming of sorts for Stone whose cricketing journey started in Norfolk.

“I still come home a lot,” he explained.

“Witchingham helped me train a lot during Covid; they were very accommodating. So to go back and repay the favour and say thanks to them, it’s a no brainer.”

The club are aiming for a first East Anglian Premier League (EAPL) title.

“It can only help the club get better, push the development of the youngsters in the 2nd and 3rd teams, help the club go forward and also get a few people to come down and watch – there’s nothing better than playing in front of a crowd,” Stone added.

Stone’s fastest deliveries can reach 94mph (151km/h) so, if you are an East Anglian Premier League batter padding up in the away changing room at Walcis Park, do not forget your thigh pad and elbow guard.

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