London: England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar believes that his voyage to and stay Down Under last winter transformed both his personality and his fortunes.
Speaking after snaring 17 Indian wickets in a recent Test series in India, Panesar said that just 12 months ago, he was the forgotten man of England cricket, having not played a Test since the first match of the 2009 Ashes series in Cardiff.
Playing for Sussex in English County Cricket, he decided to go to Australia to play Sydney Grade Cricket with Randwick Petersham.
What happened thereafter is part of Sydney cricket folklore.
According to former Australian fast bowler Mike Whitney, Panesar was shy and introverted when he first landed at the club locally known as the Randy Petes.
He recalls that as the president of the club, they took him to an Indian restaurant in Sydney and put on a little function for him.
Whitney says that the people were so excited to have him, that they made donations on the spot to try and cover his costs, something that never happens in Sydney.
Whitney recalls the club asking Panesar what he wanted to do and whether he really wanted to play Test cricket again, or whether he wanted to be remembered as the guy who everyone thought would take 400 Test wickets but came up short.
That got him going. He started training with the New South Wales rugby guys, he was in the gym every day doing sprint training.
He said that Panesar was clearly told that when enters the cricket ground, he should believe and feel that he owns the place.
He was told to be aggressive and let all know that he was there to knock them over.
Whitney said that it did'nt take him long to come out of his shell.
Whitney told the Daily Express that Panesar left Sydney grade cricket not only a better person, but a more outgoing one and also left a better cricketer. (ANI)