London, Aug.14 : Though England left-arm spinner Monty Panesar avoids the limelight, he does belief that if you have a dream, you should pursue it.
He doesn't drink, doesn't swear, doesn't sport tattoos or dye his hair, doesn't gamble, doesn't drive flash cars and keeps his private life to himself.
Yet he's a cult figure for cricket fans. The Barmy Army of England supporters love him for his eccentric celebrations, his fielding foul-ups and his passion.
They love him because he's one of them - a hard-working, honest lad from a council estate who's living their dream by sheer hard work, reports The Sun.
The first Sikh to play cricket for England, Monty, 26, is more than just an example to British Asians.
He's an example to any youngster faced with obstacles to their ambitions in Broken Britain today.
Yesterday he had these words for them: "If you really have a genuine passion for something then don't let anything get in the way. Give it your all, especially if you are young.
"There are other things you can catch up with later in your life, but know yourself and who you are and if something is important to you, stick at it," he added
What was important to Monty when he was growing up was his desire to someday play cricket for his country.
He said: "When I first wanted to play cricket for England, I didn't think about being the first Sikh to do so. I just wanted to play cricket for England.
"At first, it wasn't a dream that looked like coming true."
Young Panesar was not an obvious athlete. He was flat-footed, gangly, and his clumsiness led schoolmates to call him Edward Scissorhands.
That wasn't going to stop him. His dad, a builder, was pals with the youth coach at Luton Town and Indians cricket club, so Monty got stuck in.
"Whatever opportunities you are given, you should take them and I went there, had fun and my interest grew."
He wanted to be a fast bowler but by the time he was 15, it was clear he was not going to set the world alight with his pace.
So he changed to spin bowling because he hoped it would give him a better chance of making progress.
The fact that he couldn't get the hang of it at first did not stop him.
"It became an obsession," he said.
"I used to bowl for hours on end to try to get it right."
He would love to see other kids from ordinary backgrounds find the drive and enthusiasm that he did, stressing: "The passion and the dedication, the sacrifices you have to make to get to that level, it gives you a sense of achievement inside."
Story first published: Thursday, August 14, 2008, 15:53 [IST]
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