'I'm back on track' - Patel
England allrounder Samit Patel has admitted that his fitness problems are not behind him yet, but insisted that his work ethic has changed and he's headed in the right direction.
Before he was recalled this summer, Patel had been out of the England set-up since their last tour of India in 2008. It was made clear by the England management that it was his attitude to fitness that was keeping him out of the side, and there was always the feeling that he had the talent to be an England cricketer if only he take on board the team's strict work ethic.
"If I did the right stuff I was very confident of getting back and I had good vibes from the management," Patel told reporters in India after England's arrival for their limited-overs series. "I knew my cricket wasn't the issue, it was the other stuff."
There is no place for complacency in the England team under coach Andy Flower's tutelage, and the attitudinal shift to accept the mantra of constant self-evaluation and improvement has been perhaps the hardest challenge for Patel. "It's a big one really," he added. "To be willing to do the work and show the attitude to do it was a big thing for me. I hope I've overcome that now. Not fully yet. It doesn't change overnight, there is a long way to go."
"It's a combination [of things], training harder, doing the hours. The willingness to train was probably one of the issues, but attitude-wise I'm back on track and going in the right direction.
"You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink. But things are going quite well. I've lost a bit of weight and attitude-wise, training is the big one for the ECB and England, the willingness to do the work. Maybe I didn't show that but now I'm doing it."
Patel's change in direction did not come in time for him to win a World Cup place with England earlier this year, however, and he admits there is no-one to blame for that regret but himself. "It was huge, very disappointing," he added. "The fact that I should have been there was so disappointing. But I can't blame anyone else but myself."
Despite spending much of the last three years in the international wilderness, Patel was kept informed by the England management and always knew what was required of him. "They always kept me in the loop and told me what to do. They wouldn't have picked me in the summer otherwise."
The issue of discipline will not apply only to Patel as England seek to extend their successful summer overseas. The bowling attack will be without James Anderson and Stuart Broad, and there will be plenty of pressure on a young seam attack featuring Tim Bresnan, Steven Finn, Jade Dernbach, Chris Woakes and the uncapped Stuart Meaker.
Bresnan, who has built a reputation for metronomic accuracy with the new ball, will have to take up to role of senior bowler in the absence of Anderson and Broad. "It's obviously different bowling in England than in India," said Bresnan. "In England, you may gather some seam when the ball is new. With wickets playing different in India, I view it as a challenge.
"We have to bowl very tightly with the new ball. We have to bowl very accurately and very straight. Otherwise, you will be hit for runs. We have young bowlers who have a lot of talent. If we bowl well, we can pick up early wickets.
"It's a fresh start and a new challenge for us. We are going into this series with exactly the same mentality with which we won in England. We are still looking to improve and looking forward to the challenge."