Monty Panesar on chasing dreams and wickets, on and off the cricket pitch
Reena Ranger, Chair of Women Empowered, is In Conversation with Monty Panesar as part of her regular series for ‘iGlobal’ to explore some inspirational facets from the life and achievements of prominent Global Indians.
Mudhsuden Singh Panesar, or Monty Panesar, is an international cricketer who has played for the England side. The Luton-born left-arm spinner has been a crowd favourite on the cricket pitch, including for his unique leaping in the air style of wicket celebrations. Last year, he turned his hand to writing with the publication of ‘The Full Monty’. Here he speaks to Reena about chasing wickets, lockdown discipline and the next chapter in his life.
How has the coronavirus lockdown changed your world?
I am a sportsman so discipline and following instructions come naturally to us. So, I followed the guidelines of the government and stayed home with family and didn’t go out to meet people. When I got bored, I tried to occupy myself by learning new activities.
I learnt how to do the handstand, which took me six weeks to get right. I try to get my mind into my body, so I don’t over-think things. Following PT trainers on Instagram Live helped me achieve good physical health. I have found that daily stretches and yoga helps me clear my mind and distracts me from unnecessary thoughts.
I also phoned in on LBC and BBC Radio London to engage with political conversations and develop myself into a good media broadcaster, which is my goal after cricket finishes.
I am a people person, so I like helping people and see where we can work together when I meet clients. Since I stopped playing professional cricket, I have found that I need to work harder in the business world. I still have ambitions to play professional cricket again.
If you could go back and give your teenage self-one bit of advice, what would it be?
I should have read more. I was good at math and science subjects. I remember when we had to choose between geography and history, I choose geography. I was too inclined on numbers and science.
I wish I was introduced to McDonald’s earlier because it was only when I was an A-level student that I started to eat fast food. There is some merit in delaying eating junk food, I suppose, during your teenage years. Scientists say you tend to get the most amount of energy from food during your puberty.
I was vegetarian and my parents would always encourage us to eat home-cooked food, especially being so sporty we needed healthy food and nutrients. I am a gym junkie and one of the reasons my body can sustain high levels of physical activity is the result of my healthy diet when I was a teenager.
Which one person has had the greatest influence in your life, and why?
My mum and dad, if I am allowed to pick two. I always go to dad for the big decisions in my life and I always go to mum for smaller decisions. I think my parents are well ahead of their time. I don’t think we give out parents enough credit because we young British kids think we are the experts!
When I was in my darker times, my mum discovered my behaviour was erratic and not myself. With her emotional intelligence, she nudged me towards an informal mental health conversation. Being sportsmen, especially being a Sikh, we tend to think everything is all good all the time.
My father gave me the freedom to go after my dreams to play cricket. He did say, you need a cricket coach and let them teach you cricket; I will give you the space and freedom to learn and evolve into an international cricketer. I see too many parents don’t give their children the freedom and space to grow and learn things for themselves because the attachment is too strong. My parents knew if they want their kid to be happy, they should be free to chase their dreams.
You have already achieved so much in your career, what’s the next goal?
I need to find something that I am passionate about, just like taking wickets for England. The only thing that comes to mind is media and entertainment.
I want to become a media broadcaster and television personality. I think being on TV is what gives me the buzz of taking a wicket. I would like to do sports commentary and go into the acting world in a few years’ time. I love what Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson does – he goes to an Oscars award ceremony and is in the gym the next morning.
I am an early bird and physical exercise and media resonates with me. I have stopped drinking alcohol and I want to start chasing my dreams and see if I can achieve them. Having a goal is like driving your car: you know where your destination is, and I believe my destination is media broadcasting and entertainment.
I would also like to go into the business world as an entrepreneur and get involved with charities to use my public image to help the less fortunate in this world and raise money for good causes. Guru Nanak has blessed us with voluntary service, and the word sewa is now even in the ‘Oxford English Dictionary’. I like helping people around me achieve their dreams and goals too. I am a great believer in my faith. We come into the world alone and we will leave it alone, so our relationship with God is important. Faith is the power of good habits, things you do daily to achieve your goal.
Reena Ranger is the Chair and Co-Founder of Women Empowered. In this exclusive “In Conversation” series for iGlobal, the dynamic entrepreneur-philanthropist will be catching up with high-achieving Global Indians across different fields to spotlight some insightful life lessons.
*The views expressed in the answers are of the interviewees.