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World Cup 2011

Flower frustrated as Patel fails fitness requirements

Andrew Miller

January 19, 2011

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Samit Patel took 3 for 26 against Lancashire, Nottinghamshire v Lancashire, Friends Provident t20, Trent Bridge, June 15, 2010
Too fat for the World Cup? Samit Patel has let himself down, according to his coach, Mick Newell © PA Photos
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England's coach, Andy Flower, has voiced his frustration at the continuing fitness shortcomings of the Nottinghamshire allrounder, Samit Patel, a player whose skills would have been ideally suited to the slow, low wickets that are anticipated at next month's World Cup, but whose failure to meet even the squad's most basic fitness standards have left his international career in tatters.

In December, in a clear hint as to England's intentions ahead of the World Cup, Patel - an attacking left-arm spinner and hard-hitting batsman - was named in England's 30-man shortlist for the tournament, but when the squad was trimmed to 15 final names earlier this week, his weight issues scuppered any prospect of a recall. Instead, the senior spinner Graeme Swann will now be partnered by Michael Yardy and James Tredwell, neither of whom could be described as natural athletes, but who have both shown a willingness to put in the necessary hours in the gym.

"It is very frustrating but only the individual is responsible for that," Flower told reporters in Hobart. "Samit was chosen in the [provisional 30-man] squad because his type of player would be very useful in the subcontinent. He was chosen on the condition that he would improve his physical state to be in consideration for this squad of 15. All we were saying was 'get into reasonable shape'. It didn't have to be perfect. In fact, all we wanted to see was an improvement, but a significant improvement. He hasn't done that.

"We don't expect any of our guys to be perfect, physically, but we do expect them to work hard and it is an indication of your mindset and how much you want to play for England, how you are able to discipline yourself," added Flower. "You have to make good decisions to get yourself into good physical shape. We want tough, determined cricketers playing for England and he is not indicating that he is capable of that."

Patel impressed with both bat and ball during a run of 11 ODIs in 2008, and picked up a haul of 5 for 41 against South Africa at The Oval. But away from the field, he was described by England's then-captain Kevin Pietersen as "fat, unfit and lazy", and has been an outcast ever since, despite repeated pleas from England's selectors for a change of attitude. On January 19, 2010, exactly a year before his latest omission, Geoff Miller, the national selector, said: "He knows what is required ... the ball is in his court now and he has to go away and understand what is necessary."

The penny, however, has not dropped, with Nottinghamshire's coach, Mick Newell, suggesting that Patel's wedding in October had led to a further slipping of standards during his honeymoon. Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, Newell said that Flower's comments were fair, and admitted his own frustrations that such an obviously talented player was allowing his career to go to waste.

"Andy's given Samit a lot of time, it's nearly two-and-a-half years since he played for England, so he's been well aware of what's been required of him to get back in the squad," said Newell. "From Andy Flower's perspective, it's disappointing and frustrating that a player he would like to pick, he doesn't feel he can.

Under the guidance of their fitness coach, Huw Bevan, England have become one of the best-drilled outfits in the world, and the feat of endurance that Alastair Cook produced during the Ashes, batting for the best part of 36 hours for a mammoth 766 runs, was a testament to the standards that England now expect, and receive, from all their players.

"I think Samit's let himself down," added Newell. "He's got all the attributes from the skills side of the game to play at the highest level, but he's not committed himself to the fitness, and he doesn't seem to understand the importance of it. England have set their stall out to be a very fit and agile cricket team and their fielding in the recent Ashes reflects that. Andy is perfectly entitled to have a standard of fitness that he wants to see reached, and obviously Samit is not doing that."

"It would be sad if he looks back on his career and he hasn't done something that everyone is capable of," said Flower. "Everyone is capable of hard work, it just takes a bit of discipline."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 101 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (January 23, 2011, 0:37 GMT)

Henry_Kane poses an interesting scenario... Had the player in question decided he wasn't going to change, would Flower have selected him...Conversely, if the player had adapted to Flower's criteria, would he still have been the player he was originally...I guess it depends on what you're aiming for... inidividual brilliance or just another cog in the wheel.

Posted by Henry on (January 22, 2011, 14:09 GMT)

I wonder if the best leg spinner ever to play the game would have found a place in Flower's team!

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 22, 2011, 13:55 GMT)

BearAllen ... I suggest you read my last post on here...I didn't say Flower had called him fat or lazy...What I did say was that some people on this and other threads are doing so because of the inferences from Flower, Miller and the Notts coach, et al.. Now you're not trying to tell me that these so-called experts in media manipulation couldn't foresee how things would pan out when they made these remarks and that Patel would become the focus of all this media attention and snide remarks.

Posted by Tristan on (January 22, 2011, 12:44 GMT)

Get over yourself, Bob. Flower's not a priest or a doctor. That's cobblers. He's a cricket coach being asked by a cricket journalist why a cricketer wasn't picked for his squad, and he gave a straight answer. And 'fat' was never mentioned. He said Patel was told he needed to improve his fitness, and he didn't. He didn't even pass the basic fitness tests. Coaches and journalists have always discussed issues with their players. If they didn't, this website would be pretty empty.

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 22, 2011, 11:27 GMT)

I really can't see the problem here. Patel was told what he needed to do in order to make the squad and hasn't made the effort to do it. Therefore quite rightly he's been left out the squad. It must be frustrating for Flower and the selectors because they obviously rate him as a player and would want him for the world cup. Maybe this action will be the kick up the backside he needs to do what he was asked.

Some people seem to overlook the amount that fitness has played in Englands recent success. Besides Flowers and the selectors have shown themselves to be correct on nearly every decsion they've made in the last few years. I'm prepared to back them over this one.

Posted by ian on (January 22, 2011, 7:55 GMT)

In the last year Patel has evidently got heavier and slower after being dangled the carrot of being in contention for the WC squad. He is therefore someone who either lacks cricketing ambition, or he has never believed that he'd actually be picked. Considering the former, what could have acted as a disincentive to his motivation then? Could it be that there are forceful and uncompromsing personalities in the current set up who have no time for him? Who would live and work cheek by jowl with fellow professionals under the spotlight of a world sporting event knowing that your very presence was regarded with contempt? When one empathises with Samit Patel's position in this way, then his compensatory comfort-eating makes absolute sense! BTW: what is "the basic standard of fitness" required by the current England management that entitles a player to know that he is eligible for consideration by the selectors? I think most cricket followers would be interested to know the criteria applied.

Posted by Dennis on (January 22, 2011, 7:43 GMT)

Maybe Flower should have watched big jessie take catches in the gully today nz v pak

Posted by Dummy4 on (January 22, 2011, 7:41 GMT)

But souwesterly, he wasn't in the team... that's the whole point. He was one of the 30 players in provisional squad from which the 15 to represent England at the WC would be chosen. So he until or unless he was selected, in simple terms, he was merely one candidate for a place. Although he knew the criteria well in advance, he had failed to prepare himself sufficiently so wasn't chosen. No argument there.. And that is where the matter should have ended... with a brief statement, saying he was unfit for selection, not with the publication of all Patel's so-called deficiencies. How many of the other 14 who missed the cut had the reasons for their exclusion broadcast to the world... Why single out Patel for what can only be described as public humiliation. And if you don't think it is humiliation, why has there been so much public discussion about it on this an other threads with people calling him lazy.. fat...slovenly. etc. It's a disgraceful action by Flower and the selectors.

Posted by Jay on (January 22, 2011, 1:31 GMT)

Folks on the comments don't understand that weight wouldn't be the only issue there. He must be failing the basic fitness tests - failure to meet even the squad's most basic fitness standards. Now that is definitely necessary.

Posted by Girik on (January 22, 2011, 1:04 GMT)

Apart from fast bowling, cricket doesn't require its player to be fit traditionally speaking. Nowadays good outfield fielding and running between the wickets is a strong bonus (But again mainly for 50 over games, not so much in Tests and T20s). Having said that, if his batting and bowling outweigh his weak fielding then he should still be selected. David Boon, Inzaman, Mark Taylor, Sehwag, Powar, Ryder, Warne in his early days Leverock,... Cricket is filled with fat people! It is one reason it is such a great sport. Doesn't matter how tall, short, fat, thin you are anyone can succeed in cricket.

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Andrew Miller Andrew Miller was saved from a life of drudgery in the City when his car caught fire on the way to an interview. He took this as a sign and fled to Pakistan where he witnessed England's historic victory in the twilight at Karachi (or thought he did, at any rate - it was too dark to tell). He then joined Wisden Online in 2001, and soon graduated from put-upon photocopier to a writer with a penchant for comment and cricket on the subcontinent. In addition to Pakistan, he has covered England tours in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, as well as the World Cup in the Caribbean in 2007
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