Patel Aiming To Push
International Case In FL t20
Comment and Analysis | 2nd June 2011
It won't be long before England name their squads for their t20 and one-day internationals with Sri Lanka – and Samit Patel is desperate to be in both.
There have been times when the talented Notts all-rounder's international career looked to be on the scrapheap.
Ongoing question marks over his fitness at the very top level threatened to undermine an ability with both bat and ball that has never been in doubt.
Earlier this year, Patel was given a dressing down by England coach Andy Flower.
It was not the first time he has received that type of public criticism.
But this time, the penny seems to have dropped. Patel is never going to be stick thin, but then England have never expected that, merely a willingness to make a concerted effort to address the issue.
The result, in conjunction with a fine start to the season both in four-day and one-day cricket, has been an England Lions call.
A century in that representative match against the touring Sri Lankans at Derby only served to underline his flying start to 2011.
It is one he is determined will see him mixing it with the likes of Notts team-mates Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann on the international scene before the summer is out – as the player predicted he could make happen before the start of the campaign.
With that aim in mind, Patel's performances in the domestic t20 competition – which starts for Notts Outlaws tomorrow night with a home tie against cross-border rivals the Derbyshire Falcons – are critical.
"It is definitely another chance for me to push my international claims – massively so," he said.
"I would be very disappointed if I didn't make the one-day squads this summer.
"But I know I haven't done enough yet. I need to keep going in the right direction. With Stuart Broad announced as the new t20 England captain, it's important for me to do well in domestic t20.
"It's quite an important part of the season for Notts as well really. It's crucial that we start well in the competition and create some momentum.
"I think we have got a good squad for t20 and two fantastic overseas players that should give us a chance in all our games. It is good to see Adam (Voges) and Dave (Hussey) together because previously it has been one or the other."
Patel's statistics for the summer so far make for impressive reading.
In first-class cricket, he has scored two centuries and five fifties for 712 runs in eight matches at 50.85.
He has also chipped in with a useful 18 wickets.
On the one-day front in four CB 40 games, Patel has contributed 171 runs at 42.75, as well as a further two wickets, albeit at a more expensive 82 each.
Patel believes it is not just a new focus but a period away from cricket that has helped him.
He said: "Having a break this winter did me the world of good. I've got my enjoyment back and it was a good way to go.
"Before that it was cricket, cricket, cricket and I had got a little fed up.
"But getting away from it has got me good to go again. I'm fresh and obviously that has helped as my performances have shown.
"Now I've hit some form, I want to keep it going for as long as I can which can then help me play international cricket.
"You have to take advantage when you are in form because there will be times when you are struggling."
Patel was thrilled to score 119 against Tillakaratne Dishan's tourists for the Lions, largely in a big partnership with fellow centurion Eoin Morgan.
He believes that highlights his potential to play Test cricket at one point in his career, too.
The competition looks that much stiffer in that domain, though, with a host of pretenders – in addition to the likes of Morgan – competing for one place in an otherwise settled batting line-up.
The likes of James Taylor (Leicestershire), Ben Stokes (Durham) and Jonny Bairstow (Yorkshire) all average in the late forties in first-class cricket and are younger men.
Ravi Bopara is of a similar age to Patel and also possesses a similar batting average.
"It was a massive confidence booster and relief in a way just to show the selectors I am progressing," said Patel.
"I have been put down as a one-day cricketer but I don't think my first-class record is shabby either.
"It compares pretty well with others and it's still my ambition to get in the England team across all forms of cricket.
"I just have to get my head down and get on with it and keep scoring the runs. You can't really argue with what was said before. I just have to work hard in the gym and show the right attitude so they can't ask for any more.
"I'm chuffed to bits with the way things are going on and off the pitch but I want to be contributing lots more for Notts."
Patel knows that continuing his bowling development could be key to his chances after increasingly being thrown the ball this summer.
He said: "I've been bowling a lot more for Notts because Swanny (Graeme Swann) has not been there.
"In one-day cricket the aim is to try to go at less than four an over.
"Trying to keep it tight is just as important as taking wickets and it is best sometimes to not go searching for them. If they come, they are then a bonus."
Notts reached finals day in t20 at the Rose Bowl last season and Patel is keen to go a long way this year, too.
The Outlaws have eight home games between now and the middle of July, which will be vital to their hopes.
"In t20, fielding is crucial because saving ten or 15 runs in a game can be the difference between winning and losing," he said.
"The idea with the bat is to excite and I love to smash the sixes and fours, but then I'm quite aggressive anyway in four-day cricket.
"Obviously there is more emphasis on staying in during the longer form, but this gives you a bit more chance to go for it."
Matt Halfpenny is the Midlands Sports Journalist of the year and follows Nottinghamshire for the Nottingham Post.
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