England icon keen to get back into the game, but is keeping his options open.

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Former English spinner Monty Panesar still feels he has the talent and fitness to represent a first-class county, but has been working on a number of ventures outside cricket in order to broaden his horizons.

Panesar took 167 wickets in 50 Test matches for England, as well as featuring in 26 ODIs.

The 37-year-old hasn’t featured in a first-class fixture since turning out for Northants against Worcestershire back in July 2016. However, getting back into professional cricket remains Panesar’s primary motivation.

“I feel like I’m bowling as well as I’ve ever been. I had the opportunity to bowl at the Pakistan boys recently and everything just feels really good.

“I’m putting myself out there, ringing up coaches, trying to get a trial just to have a bowl at some of the better county players and see where my own game is at.

“That’s what gets me up every morning. I think about being a professional cricketer and I’ll continue to chase that dream.”

Panesar has joined other players looking for fresh opportunities in registering for the PCA’s Changing Room, a recent initiative that supports players who have been released by their counties or are seeking a loan move to another club. The Changing Room advertises players in a marketplace that can be accessed by counties via their Head Coach or Director of Cricket.

Players can register for the Changing Room by completing a single form, details of which can be found on the PCA website.

Whilst Panesar is still setting his sights on a return to professional cricket, he is currently involved in a number of ventures outside of the game, and urges current and young players to follow the same path.

“I think it’s very important for players to develop themselves away from cricket. Doing things away from the game helps you to prepare for the future, but can also make your mind a lot fresher when you go back to playing again.

“The PCA have several development courses in place to help players with this. I would also always ring my Personal Development Manager (PDM) if I need advice on things such as my new academy.”

The Monty Panesar Cricket Academy, although still in its infancy, aims to increase South Asian representation in first-class cricket. A recent study at Leeds Beckett University revealed that over 30% of players at club level are of South Asian origin, but that figure stands at just 4% in the professional game. Panesar hopes that his academy will help to address such a glaring imbalance.

“We’re very excited about the academy. My dream and vision for it is that it will be a platform for counties in England and Wales to scout players from.

“In particular, I want to help young players to understand what is expected of professional cricketers. As well as the physicality, there are certain soft skills which are very important when it comes to being a member of a cricket team.”

Not content with setting up his own academy, Panesar has also recently published a book. ‘The Full Monty’ tells the story of Panesar’s career from his own perspective, detailing his rise to becoming England’s number one spinner, right through to the mental health issues that he experienced later on in his career.

“It’s about both the good times and the slightly more difficult times.

“I have great enthusiasm for my cricket which I think is something that a lot of people associate with me. Hopefully fans of the game can relate to the book and take some inspiration from it.”

When quizzed on his aforementioned struggles with mental health, Panesar explains that the key to overcoming such issues was to open up about them.

“I regularly spoke to my PDM when I first started out at Essex. The PCA also put me in touch with a psychologist who I could speak to and share whatever issues I had on my mind.

“Talking is great as well as doing small holistic activities to calm your mind. I think it’s really important to have a good relationship with your PDM.”

Click here to find more information on the PCA’s Personal Development and Welfare Programme or contact your regional Personal Development Manager.