Patel should be embarrassed, says coach
Samit Patel has been told by his Nottinghamshire coach, Mick Newell, that he ought to be embarrassed by his continuing lack of fitness, having been omitted from England's 15-man squad for the ICC World Twenty20 almost two months after he was served a warning about his weight by being withdrawn from England's one-day tour of the Caribbean.
"He was told once and he obviously hasn't taken enough notice, so he needs to take a lot of notice this time," Newell told BBC Radio. "It's embarrassing really, from his point of view, to be left out twice for the same reason."
Purely in terms of on-field performances, Patel would have expected to be a shoo-in for the Twenty20 squad that was announced at Lord's on Friday. Since making his ODI debut in August last year, he has averaged 23.20 with the bat and 29.00 with the ball in 11 matches, and impressed with the versatility of his contributions.
However, off the field, his rotund figure has been a cause for concern ever since the issue was first raised by the former management duo of Kevin Pietersen and Peter Moores in India last November. He was deselected from the Caribbean tour party after displaying "unsatisfactory" levels of fitness in two tests during the Lions tour of New Zealand, and now, according to the national selector, Geoff Miller, he has failed to show any improvement whatsoever despite repeated warnings.
"He's paying his price," Miller said of Patel's omission from the Twenty20 squad. "We don't request people to be fit now, we insist on it. Samit has been told by the coach and national selector where he stands, and his measurements from a fitness point of view haven't improved from when we deselected him. What we would like to see is him being disciplined in what he does to improve himself, because we know what he is capable of."
Patel himself has insisted that he has been putting the hard yards into his fitness work, but has put his lack of visible progress down to his natural body shape. "I have had to accept some difficult truths from people in the game that I have a lot of respect for," he said during Nottinghamshire's pre-season press day at the beginning of April. "I have worked hard to improve my fitness and I am looking forward to playing a part for Nottinghamshire and England in an important summer of cricket. I don't want to be in a position ever again where I miss out on selection because of a lack of fitness."
That, however, has already happened, and Newell was unsympathetic. "He's got free membership to a gym, it's not difficult. We've got a full-time strength and conditioning coach, we've got the right sort of people. But ultimately he's the one that's got to get on the treadmill or push the weights."
"We know his technical abilities with bat and ball. When that starts to improve we'll revisit [this decision]," said Miller. "I'm disappointed for us and for him, but we've laid down the rules and players have to abide by them. He feels he's been putting the work and time in, but he cannot explain it - the figures are there. I just want him to discipline himself to get him up to the fitness standard."
According to Miller, the most recent test was conducted this week, but having witnessed no improvement, Patel - who is one of seven players on an increment contract with the ECB - will be subjected to a continuous monitoring process in conjunction with Nottinghamshire.
"Go away and improve your lifestyle," was Miller's stark message. "All I see are the measurements. He's reacted as I'd hope he'd react. He's disappointed and hurt that he can't represent his country because he's not fit, but I'm hoping that this conversation will stop as soon as he's got the message and proves us wrong."