While Alex Rodriguez’s career in Major League Baseball may be in grave jeopardy, across the Atlantic Ocean, another athletic superstar is also facing a crossroads in his own career. British cricket star Monty Panesar has apologized after an embarrassing incident in which he drunkenly urinated on bouncers outside a club in Brighton, England, after they sought to eject him from the establishment. “Monty would like to apologize unreservedly for any offense caused," said a spokesman for the spin bowler.
Brighton police charged Panesar, a 31-year-old Briton of Punjabi Sikh descent, with being “drunk and disorderly,” while the Sussex County Cricket Club has commenced an investigation into the incident. According to The Sun tabloid, Panesar was drinking at the Shooshh club on the beachfront at Brighton. He was asked to leave the bar after a group of women complained that he was bothering them. Subsequently, an enraged and inebriated Panesar relieved himself on the bouncer’s heads from a promenade above. The bouncers and doormen than gave chase to the bearded player, trapping him at a neighboring pizza parlor, from where they called police. Police have already fined him 90 pounds, but he may face suspension by his Sussex club.
But Panesar is not just any cricketer, he is an Indian Sikh who has a national (indeed international) following. He had already been named to the England team for the next Ashes Test match. He is also devoted to his faith – as he has uncut hair and a full beard, in keeping with the tenets of Sikhism. He once told British media: “I follow Sikhism, and maybe I’ve channeled the discipline that religion creates into my cricket. There’s discipline with any religion, and you can take it into a game or into anything else." He is in fact the first Sikh test cricketer ever to play for a national team outside of India, as well as one of the most popular athletes in Britain.
Indeed, many non-Sikh fans pay homage to him by wearing fake beards and even patkas (turbans) at cricket matches. “[Monty is] a cult figure for cricket fans,” said a piece in SikhChic.com. “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 [housing project] who's living their dream by sheer hard work.”
Nonetheless, fans took to Twitter to make fun of Panesar’s predicament. A Tweeter named Kap said, “Credit to Monty. My aim is poor when I’m sober, so such accuracy when drunk is a skill worth exhibiting.” Another commenter named “Cricket Gandu” joked that public urination in India is quite common, noting that “Monty Panesar [is] giving us proof that you can take the man out of Punjab, but you can’t take the Punjab out of the man!”
The Daily Telegraph reported that the Sussex club has become increasingly concerned with Panesar’s erratic behavior, both on and off the field, in recent weeks. The head coach of the England squad, Andy Fowler, is known as a stickler for discipline and decorum, raising doubts about Panesar’s membership on the team. This is also not Panesar's first brush with the law. In January 2011, he was detained by police following a violent argument with his wife in a parking lot outside of a bar.