Newell spells out Patel's task
Somerset 402 for 9 dec (Petersen 94, Trego 86, Trescothick 72, Carter 3-90) drew with Nottinghamshire 440 (Patel 132, Read 96, Thomas 5-127 Gregory 4-80) and 322 for 4 dec (Jaques 150*, Patel 75)
Samit Patel claims not to have any thoughts of an England recall but in this match gave the best impression of the potential that England could call upon in their new era under Peter Moores.
Patel breezed his way past fifty on a particularly mediocre final day which brought personal satisfaction for Phil Jaques as he added 95 on the day to reach an unbeaten 150, but which long before his six-and-a-quarter hour stint was over was heading inexorably towards the second tame draw in succession at Taunton.
Patel also had a second century in the match laid before him, only to sweep a full delivery from Johann Myburgh and be bowled for 75. But the innings continued a smart run of form that suggests, at 29, he may be approaching his peak. It is only 15 months ago since he last played for England.
"I don't think the door should be shut on Samit," Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire director of cricket and new England selector said. "He is a potential international cricketer still. He has been in and around the edges for a number of years. He has to score heavily and he needs his bowling to be of a level where he offers both I think, because of the potential for an allrounder who is a spin bowler rather than a seamer.
"He is nearly 30 now, and he's got to have an opportunity, but he has got to churn out regular scores. He has played very nicely in two innings this year - 90 against Lancashire when it was doing a lot, and the innings here. He's a very attractive batsman to watch when he's batting like that."
Newell described the England team as "more of a clean slate than it has been for a number of years" and suggested a number of players should be hopeful of a recall if they perform. Nick Compton being one of them. Discarded before the Ashes last summer, despite two centuries against New Zealand, Compton could be considered again with England requiring a new opener and potentially a No. 3 for the Sri Lanka Tests and India series to follow.
"People who have played recently like Craig Kieswetter and Nick Compton will feel they have a good chance of playing," Newell said. "And they certainly do. But it's not just about scoring three hundreds to get in, it still comes down to opinion and belief as to who will score the most when you put them on to the bigger stage."
Here, Compton suffered a poor dismissal - caught behind cutting to the gentle seamers of Steven Mullaney for only 25 - but a century at Durham in the second match of the season could be the innings to fulfil the criteria Newell describes. Craig Kieswetter's three dropped catches - he also put down Phil Jaques on the final day - were disappointing but with Johnny Bairstow not convincing as England's next-best wicketkeeper and a fitness cloud around Matt Prior, Kieswetter could be one of a number of gloveman to consider.
James Taylor, a player Newell has been able to keep a closer eye on, was similarly handled to Compton in being dropped by England without doing too much wrong. Taylor was again part of the England Lions touring party in the winter and enjoyed a strong tour of Sri Lanka including a first-class best 242 not out.
"Both of them have had a taste, and both of them will feel they want some more," Newell said. "That's the whole challenge. If you want some more, you have to show everyone you really are hungry. You've got two blokes there who really love batting, who want to churn the runs out.
"For the most part it is going to come down to scoring a volume of runs. Someone like Gary Ballance has pushed himself forward with the runs that he has got this season. The challenge to Nick and James is to make the volume but also to make the important innings, the match winning innings."
Taylor had little chance of a match-winning innings at Taunton on such a tame wicket that only yielded 23 wickets in four days but he was visibly disappointed to be lbw for just 5 three overs into a final day where Phil Jaques made a first century for his new county.
"James is 23 going on 47 I think. He's very mature, and he's very well organised about how he goes about his practice and training - a pleasure to have in your team. He's hitting the ball nicely, and I thought he was playing very well in his first innings. He feels he can compete with these guys for that middle order spot that might be going up for grabs."
Alex Winter is an editorial assistant at ESPNcricinfo