Cricket Australia apologises to Monty Panesar

Tweet showed four Sikhs dressed as Teletubbies and asked “Will the real Monty Panesar stand up?”

England bowler Monty Panesar backed to rise above the fuss over clumsy tweet. Photograph: Dave Hunt/EPA

Monty Panesar has received a second apology from Cricket Australia inside a week, but has been backed to rise above off-field distractions to re-establish himself in international cricket in the remainder of the Ashes tour.

The left-arm spinner, whose first over of the tour in Alice Springs last Saturday led to the dismissal of the public address announcer and the first apology, was the victim of a clumsy attempt at humour by Cricket Australia’s own Twitter feed after his inclusion in England’s second Test team had been confirmed on Thursday morning.

They tweeted an old photograph of four Sikhs dressed as Teletubbies with the caption “Will the real Monty Panesar stand up?”

The tweet was deleted after around half an hour, but too late to prevent it causing huge embarrassment to Australian cricket’s accident-prone governing body, which issued a public apology and also contacted English cricket officials to express their regret.


It was the second time in six months that Cricket Australia had blamed a rogue tweeter in their Melbourne office for straying off message, after failing to discover the culprit who had reacted to a decision by the third umpire to reprieve Ian Bell at Lord's in July by tweeting "That decision sucked ass £bullshit".

Within hours of the Panesar howler, they confirmed a change in social media arrangements, and will now split tweets between one account for official statements and another that will retain a degree of editorial independence – a division that they insisted had been planned before the latest gaffe, following the model of the Australian Rules Football governing body.

Panesar was unaware of all the fuss, as he had been in Alice Springs, while making a solid international comeback after nine months in which he lost his contract with Sussex and was snubbed by England after being arrested for relieving himself in the direction of nightclub bouncers on Brighton seafront in July.

"Monty's just Monty," said Graeme Swann, his former Northamptonshire team-mate who relished the support of a second spinner, as he did in India last winter. "He's always been a bit left-field and a bit different to everyone else and it's one of the reasons we love him so much.

“We don’t care what’s happened in the last 12 months off the field. He’s one of the boys and we embrace him as ever and we love seeing him do well. He did the job that we wanted him to do and that’s all Monty ever does. He just turns up and plays his game.”

Neil Burns, the former county wicketkeeper who has been an influential mentor to several cricketers including Panesar and Nick Compton, said the 31-year-old would be unaffected by the fuss.

“One of his great strengths is he loves cricket so much and he’s so committed that he has a great capacity to focus on his game and what he needs to do. That’s one of the most important qualities that any sportsman needs to have, especially at international level.”

Burns also praised the role played by the England selectors and management in helping Panesar through his recent problems. “Monty has always benefited from being in a loving and supportive environment,” he added.

“When he went through the difficulties last year, the faith shown by the selectors was important for him in many ways, especially feeling that he was being backed based on the quality he had brought to the team previously. I hope this confidence will really help him as the tour goes on.

“He seems to have really enjoyed the tour so far, and it also highlights how when people in life have challenging times, if they’re supported through them they can come out the other end and be inspirational to others.”

Guardian Service