ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
World Cup 2011
Flower frustrated as Patel fails fitness requirements
January 19, 2011
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."