Sussex Premier League club Three Bridges hope they have pulled off a real coup after signing Sussex and England spinner Monty Panesar.
Panesar, 28, will link up with the Crawley-based club when Sussex commitments permit. Last season he turned out for Bexhill CC after he was left out of Sussex’s Twenty20 squad and took 18 wickets including 6 for 31 against Bridges.
But Bexhill’s relegation allowed Bridges to step in as Sussex’s pros are only allowed to play for premier league clubs. Bexhill praised his professionalism and Panesar said playing regular cricket helped him produce such impressive form in the second half of the season. He finished with 52 wickets in Sussex’s promotion-winning campaign.
Bridges’ skipper Danny Alderman said: “It’s massive for us. It’s a huge coup to have an Ashes-winning cricketer potentially playing for Three Bridges.
“Monty is just made for us. With the Asian population in the town and if people know he is playing, we could be turning up at Three Bridges and finding 500 people there.
“The interest should go through the roof. Crawley has a massive Asian community and to have one of the leading, if not the leading Asian cricketer in the country playing is great for the club and for the town as a whole.”
Alderman played in the game against Bexhill last summer and admits it was hard work coming up against the ‘Sikh of Tweak’.
He added: “I hit his first ball for four but then he tied me up in knots for the next hour and a half. He was different class. He could turn it on ice. When he did get it to go, it went a long way. I got 19 but he was nigh on unplayable.
“We are very grateful to Sussex for allocating Monty as our club professional, and this really makes us feel part of the Sussex fold.
“Our vice-chairman James Chadburn should take a lot of the credit. He has been banging on the door and talking to Dave Brooks, Sussex’s chief executive, and Keith Greenfield at the academy, and we thank them both.”