Nottinghamshire v Sussex, Hove, 1st day June 1, 2014

Brilliant Patel gatecrashes Sussex party

Vithushan Ehantharajah

Nottinghamshire 408 for 5 (Patel 142*) v Sussex

Sussex's healthiest home crowd of the season turned out in high spirits on the day they officially celebrated their 175th birthday, only to find Samit Patel gatecrashing proceedings as once more he produced the sort of innings to demand that his England career was not yet spent.

Friendly faces greeted you at the gates, offering directions to seats and foam cushions to make them more alluring. One onsite tent boasted 27 real ales - they were reduced to 24 by 4pm - while another seemed to have smoke emanating from its peak. "Don't worry, that's just the barbecue starting up," reassured the ground announcer, a very evident presence throughout the day.

"Good Old Sussex By The Sea" came through the speakers, as the home side took the field upon winning the toss. At tea interval, a parade of vintage cars circled the outfield - a penny for the groundsman's thoughts - as a cake was cut to mark Sussex's birthday, as well wishes from children were played on the big screen. It was very much a day for Sussex, by Sussex, brought to you by Disney.

There is nothing romantic about Patel's tale, yet. He does not fit the young prince look that seems to thrive in English cricket. Nor is there any whimsy to his story as a criminally overlooked player in all three formats of the international game. He has not been shy of stating his claim or deriding his status as the perennial outlier. How many more times must he produce an innings till the words and runs lose all meaning?

He has good memories of Hove, having scored 157 in the first innings of this fixture in 2013. Just as it was then, his timing and placement was a joy to behold, dictating play with every wristy drive through the off side and late flick behind square. But even as he scored runs with such ease, his chief rival for a place in the first Test, Moeen Ali, made a hundred. And so did Scott Borthwick, a spin-bowling allrounder who was flavour of the month as recently as the Sydney Test in January.

The frustration is that any and all of Patel's success is glossed over by the noise of those who talk of what they perceive as a loose attitude towards the controllables. But here he is, as peerless a shot maker as exists in the domestic game, manipulating fielders, hitting gaps, timing expertly and sapping bowlers of will. Matthew Hobden, on Championship debut, looks to have a good future ahead of him, but he will do well to come across a batsman in better fettle than Patel here today.

His hundred was passed with a fine flick to the midwicket boundary for four. As the crowds dissipated, he began to unload, taking Hobden for 16 in an over and later bisecting the men out at deep square and deep fine leg with a controlled whip as James Anyon targeted his ribs.

Patel's brilliance notwithstanding, Sussex were dreadful in the field. Normally such a tight, functional unit, their groundfielding and catching cost them dearly.

Phil Jacques, on four, was dropped by Ben Brown at first slip when Steve Magoffin found his edge with the third ball of the day. A tougher chance to Brown again, this time off Patel (32), was also shelled.

He did have a catch to his name when Alex Hales edged through to him but there was a strong suggestion from the batsman that the ball did not carry. After looking to both square leg and Brown, Hales dragged himself off, as a pocket of home support barked their disapporoval and Hales responded accordingly.

Clearly more at home directly behind the stumps, Brown had given up the gloves for Matt Prior who was looking to prove his achilles and calves were up to the rigours of long-form keeping.

He was a tad ring rusty, conceding a handful of avoidable byes and even five penalty runs when he inadvertently guided a leg-side full toss from Hobden, one-handed, onto his helmet, which was nestling a few feet behind him. A sharp but extremely difficult chance off the bowling from via a slash from Jacques shot past him in a flash but it would be harsh to dot that as a missed chance. He clearly needs games and the 96 overs, while a drag, will have helped his preparation ahead of the first Test against Sri Lanka starting on June 12.

That being said, he should have opposition for that Test spot in Chris Read. While James Foster has been spoken of as a surefire replacement, with Bruce French watching Foster in action last week against Surrey at Chelmsford, Read has long since been on a par with Foster in terms of glovework. Here, he has supported Patel well - their partnership is currently 160 - and looked in fine touch for his 61.

Notts' director of cricket Mick Newell, who is also an England selector, would not be drawn on the specifics of a potential inclusion. But with a meeting set for this week to thrash out the details of that Test squad, Newell did make it clear that the wicketkeeping situation would feature high on the agenda.

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  • a on June 2, 2014, 9:41 GMT

    @Siltbreeze - Morgan deserved a go at tests and ultimately paid for weaker performances toward the end. Root started brightly in tests and then his tendancy to hang on back foot exposed against Aus pacers. Patel did poorly in his few test opportunities but has a fine strike rate and decent average in ODIs for a guy that comers in late and is a better 6th bowler than Root and actually ok in field. At 29 he is not much older than Moeen and has a slightly better first class record most of which is in Div 1. I would leave the door open.

    England have interesting dilemmas regarding the test team. There are only 4 guys who write their own names in - Bell, Cook, Anderson and Broad. Get seaming bouncy pitches and bring in Finn and Jordan.

  • Steve on June 2, 2014, 9:39 GMT

    Patel's had his chance. He was given a choice, 'Pies or England', and he chose Pies. He's a liability in the field and I'd love to know how many times he's been responsible for running out team-mates due to his lack of fitness. When in form, he's a good county batsman but he needs to score runs to make up for his many other shortcomings.

  • Paulo on June 2, 2014, 9:26 GMT

    @Montlaur I don't want Patel in the test team. I merely wondered whether England would. I don't want him. His England record is poor.

    If England go with a batting allrounder who bowls spin, they must pick 4 front-line seamers. No Stokes. Anderson and Jordan I assume, and Broad if fit. That leaves one place. Probably Bresnan, but I hope not. I like Roland-Jones but he struggled yesterday. I doubt Finn is ready but he's taken wickets this season. Onions is injured. Woakes, Barker, Shazad, Plunkett, Harris- there are many options.

  • Samuel on June 2, 2014, 8:48 GMT

    Saw a photo of the Hales dismissal and he had every right to stand his ground - it fell a long way short!

  • Martin on June 2, 2014, 8:26 GMT

    "He does not fit the young prince look that seems to thrive in English cricket". An interesting statement this. You do feel there are certain golden boys in the England set-up - Root and Morgan for instance - who are given far more leeway than someone like Patel.

  • Tom on June 2, 2014, 2:54 GMT

    Why do people insist on trying to get Samit into the test team? He's a very good county player but a proven failure at international level. He needs to feel wanted and hes never gonna get that from the England set-up. He's a liability in the field and now he's rather too old too. He would be nothing more than a risky stopgap, stopping younger players from getting a chance against one of the weaker test nations at home. If England are serious about their 'brave new era' they should leave him where hes happy at Notts and build a team for the future. Even if he succeeds whats the point? Having said that previous management have always selected players from their old counties so it would be no surprise if he gets in.

  • Paulo on June 1, 2014, 21:09 GMT

    Patel has scored a lot of runs this season. Unfortunately Taylor hasn't.

    Panesar was dropped by Essex today while Borthwick, Ali and Patel all scored hundreds and Kerrigan didn't take many wickets. Interesting development in the spin race. Ali is the better spinner than Patel, but Patel has scored the runs. Would England play both?

  • Dummy on June 1, 2014, 20:48 GMT

    I would liked kings11punjub to win but Mitchell johnson main cause to kkr win

  • Mark on June 1, 2014, 19:28 GMT

    I have seen a photo of the Hales 'catch' - the ball was clearly in the floor with the hands away from the ball, if anything fingers very loosely round it and certainly not under the ball. Thankfully we had a good day and should be looking at 500 tomorrow!

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