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Monty Panesar and Olly Stone prepare to play cricket in the village

Monty Panesar and Olly Stone prepare to play cricket in the village

  • Written by Joe Dean
  • BBC Sport, Norfolk

Comment on the photo, Monty Panesar felt at home when he joined Great Whitchingham team-mate Charlie Rogers at Carrow Road last weekend

Former England pacer Monty Panesar has joked that his next season playing club cricket could spark his international career.

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

“Hopefully I can get the spinner to produce some wickets for me.

“When I give my lectures around the country, everyone wants to know ‘Where is Great Whitchingham?’ And I tell them it is close to Norwich, and it certainly puts the club on the map.

“There are some really big signings and they want to make it a big success.

“Who knows, if I have a really good season, maybe I can get back into the professional game. We don't have a lot of players in the first-class scene – you know, if James Anderson can play Test cricket, why not Monty Panesar at 41 ?

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

Image source, Great Whitchingham CC

Comment on the photo, It's not quite the Lord's Pavilion, but drinks will be more affordable in Great Whitchingham and Alces Park

Talk of Panesar returning to England may be a bit cynical, but for 30-year-old Stone, there is a real desire to return to the national team.

“I would love to keep playing for England,” he said.

“I had a frustrating season last year with my hamstring injury, they asked me to go and play a few games together which is understandable.

“If I can do that, the door will never close – if I don't play another game, I'm lucky to have played in all three formats for England, but I certainly haven't closed that door and I'm working hard to get back.” In an England shirt.”

Image source, Mike Edgerton

Comment on the photo, Olly Stone is hoping to remain injury-free and return to the England squad

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

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

“Witchingham has helped me train a lot during Covid; they've been so helpful. So to come back and give back and thank them, it's a no-brainer.”

The club is aiming for its first English Premier League (EAPL) title.

“It can only help the club improve, push the development of the youngsters in the second and third teams, help the club move forward and also attract 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're a Premier League player in East Anglia and sitting in the away changing room at Walses Park, don't forget your thigh pad and elbow pad.