Hospital patients and staff have been bowled over by a visit from ex-England and Essex cricket hero Monty Panesar.
The left-arm spinner pitched up at Brockfield House in Wickford, run by Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, to support the secure mental health unit’s coffee morning in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support.
Chief Executive Sally Morris, who invited Monty, was among an audience who were gripped as the 37-year-old reflected on his own mental health to offer advice to patients.
“I’ve had my own mental health issues. It was more about the pressures and obsessions of cricket – I didn’t have a switch-off mechanism,” said the cricket legend, who was quick to empathise with his guests.
“You’ve got to think, ‘how am I going to get myself better?’ Work with them (the staff). Don’t isolate yourself. Isolation is a really big breeding ground for mental health issues,” he said.
“The more talking you do helps get rid of what’s on your mind. Have faith you will get better and have little mechanisms to cope.”.
Monty also answered questions about a cricket career in which he claimed 167 wickets during a 50-Test match career for England, and more than 700 wickets during a first-class cricket career in which he also played for Northamptonshire and Sussex.
He said his best memory was his first test wicket, that of legendary ex-India batsman Sachin Tendulkar, and said his cricket heroes included former India spin bowler Bishan Bedi, ex-England batsmen David Gower, Graham Gooch and Robin Smith, and former England all-rounder Ian Botham.
His pick of the current cricketing crop includes England all-rounder Ben Stokes, India batsman Virat Kohli and bowler Jasprit Bumrah, and Australia batting phenomenon Steve Smith.