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November 30, 2011
Samit Patel, the England allrounder, has withdrawn from next year's IPL auction in a bid to boost his chances of earning a Test place. If he had been picked up for the IPL - and it was far from certain he would have gained a deal - it would have meant missing up to seven County Championship matches at the start of the English season.
Patel returned to England's one-day side against Sri Lanka during the 2011 season having missed out on a World Cup berth due to his fitness issues. He played every game during England's recent tour of India, scoring 160 runs at 40.00 and took four wickets in the 5-0 whitewash to emerge as one of the few players with some credit.
However, although Patel's move will be noted by the England management, he faces a tough task to force his way into the Test reckoning as either a second spinner or frontline batsman but is hoping the weight of runs in the early domestic season will bring him into the selectors' thinking for the series against West Indies and South Africa in 2012.
"My biggest ambition is to play Test cricket," Patel said. "I need to score a high volume of runs in the Championship to push my case. If I was selected for the IPL then I would miss several Championship matches and that won't help me at a time when I need to do everything I can to impress the selectors.
"I have listened to the advice from people that I trust and it is clear that this decision is the right one to have made for cricket reasons. The IPL is an exciting tournament and I would like to be involved in it in the future, but not to the detriment of my England ambitions."
Mick Newell, the Nottinghamshire coach, supported Patel's move which will also strengthen the county during a crucial period of Championship cricket.
"Samit has got himself back into England's limited-overs teams but he feels that he can become a Test match regular and it goes without saying that scoring a high volume of runs for Nottinghamshire will help him to achieve his ambition," said Newell. "Staying away from the IPL this year is a mature decision and one that we hope will benefit Samit's career and improve our prospects in the Championship."
Patel's decision mirrors that of Ravi Bopara who decided not to play in last season's IPL, in an attempt to secure a place against Sri Lanka, while Stuart Broad has also resisted the the tournament's lure. Yet, despite Bopara's 408 runs in the opening five matches last season, the England selectors favoured Eoin Morgan for the first Test, who did play in the 2011 IPL, after he struck 193 for the Lions in the tour match against Sri Lanka at Derby.
As ever with Patel, runs and wickets won't be the only factor, either, as Andy Flower, the England team director, made clear in a recent interview with the Daily Mail when he said Patel "hasn't properly addressed his fitness issues. He'd better, otherwise he'll be out of the side."
Patel faces a challenge to dislodge one of England's established top six batsmen, while Bopara and James Taylor are also ahead of him in the pecking order. The most likely route into the Test team remains as a second spinner, which England rarely require on home soil.
Last season Patel took 33 first-class wickets at 30.81, together with over 1,000 runs at 47.56. Monty Panesar, England's reserve spinner on the 2010-11 Ashes tour, was the highest wicket-taker in Division One of the County Championship in 2011 with 69 victims at 27.24 and also boasts 126 Test match wickets at 34.37.
The England Test squad is set to be announced in the forthcoming weeks for the three-match series against Pakistan in Dubai.
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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