ENGLISH Test left-arm orthodox spinner Monty Panesar could be headed to Cardiff-Boolaroo this summer.
In what would be the biggest signing in decades for Newcastle cricket, the 50-Test veteran has expressed interest to CBs batsman and close friend Jeff Cook about plying his trade in Australia this season.
No agreement has been reached, but Cook said talks had begun two weeks ago.
‘‘He’s looking for some cricket during the summer,’’ Cook said. ‘‘Nothing is set in concrete. It’s basically just seeing what he wants to do.
‘‘Even if he does come, we’ve got to determine how long he’s here for and if he’s here for only a couple of months. We want him for the whole season.’’
Panesar made his Test debut in 2006 against India and played his most recent match for England in the 2013 Boxing Day Test against Australia in Melbourne.
Throughout his career Panesar has been a popular character due to his beard, Sikh turban and energetic personality on the pitch.
For most of his Test career Panesar battled behind English No.1 spinner Graeme Swann, yet he still claimed a highly respectable 167 wickets at 34.71.
That included 5-94 in his first Test against Australia at the WACA in 2006 where he claimed the wickets of Justin Langer, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Brett Lee.
Despite Swann’s retirement, the 33-year-old Panesar has slipped down the English spin-bowling pecking order behind Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid.
Panesar’s fortunes plummeted further last week when he was released by county club Essex after two seasons.
Cook has known Panesar since he was 16 after they became friends while playing at Northampton. Two summers ago Panesar also played half a season with Cook at Sydney grade club Western Suburbs.
Panesar cannot return to the Sydney competition because all clubs have filled their quota of overseas imports.
Cook, who has been appointed NSW Country coach, is hopeful Panesar’s cricket involvement will extend beyond game day and Cardiff.
‘‘It’s not just for Cardiff,’’ Cook said. ‘‘I’d like him to do spin bowlers’ coaching clinics for all of Newcastle, especially our younger players.’’
The Newcastle district cricket season begins with a 50-over match on October 3.
Cook said Panesar could be available from round two or three.
Cardiff are expected to be the big improvers this season after signing former Western Australia fast bowler Daniel McLauchlan.