India v England, 1st Test, Ahmedabad, 2nd day November 16, 2012

Patel fronts up to England failings


Maybe they are in denial or maybe he was simply in an impossible position, but there were times when it was hard to remain straight faced when Samit Patel spoke to the media after the second day's play in Ahmedabad.

It was not his laudable faith in his teammates, or his admirable desire to fight from the desperate position in which England find themselves that provoked the raised eyebrows. Both are to his credit. It was the insistence, in the face of all facts, that England were "good players of spin" that was hard to take. For England, with one or two notable exceptions, are not good players of spin. The record does not suggest that. It grabs us by the shoulders and screams in our faces. It has been proved over the last year really rather often and no amount of insistence otherwise will change that. Only an improvement in form will do so.

Patel's explanation for England's struggles in their reply was also grimly amusing. "The ball's harder and I think it spins more when the ball's harder," he explained. And, while there is some truth in that, it ignores the fact that England also had a new ball. In fact they had two of them.

To be fair to Patel, he was in an almost impossible position. Having been kept out in the field for the best part of two days and then lost early wickets, there was little positive to take from proceedings. At least when he spoke of the challenge ahead, his words rang true.

"We have two world-class batsmen at the crease," he said. "Ian Bell is still to come, there's me and there is Matt Prior. There is a lot of batting. There's no question about how long we can bat. We've got the same potential of batting as India have and we've got to keep believing that. I think the telling time will be when the ball gets soft; then we can get in.

"We've put in the hard yards; we know what we can do. Tomorrow, we hope we can show what we're made of. We're going to have to play some good cricket. It's hard work - but that's Test cricket. We have to front up. We can't go anywhere. We've got to stand up and be counted. It's no place for hiding."

Patel was also quite right to acknowledge that India's batsmen had played beautifully. "Sometimes you have to give credit to the batsmen," he said. "Sehwag played outstandingly well and Pujara carried on. Yuvraj played as he does. They're good players of spin. As the Indians showed, if you bat a long time, you can wear teams down. That's what they did. It's something we expected. You lose the toss, and field for two days. We knew what was coming and we're prepared."

George Dobell is a senior correspondent at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on November 17, 2012, 6:30 GMT

    "...Ian Bell is still to come..." - I bet Patel wishes he had a superpower that would allow him to go back in time & erase a comment from history!

  • Cool on November 17, 2012, 6:15 GMT

    @Alexk400 No, you are a pakistani. Pujara and his comments reflect confidence. Something you guys will never know.

  • Alex on November 17, 2012, 3:21 GMT

    I am indian , pujara comments are immature and idiotic.

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2012, 2:17 GMT

    @match_referee so how come england are 40 odd for 3 in the same slow docile pitch??

  • James on November 17, 2012, 1:14 GMT

    I think these are very reasonable comments from Patel. He has all the reasons for being optimistic. It is this time of the test when the outcomes get determined. If England (especially KP, Cook and Bell) can stage a rearguard action, they can very well take the moral victory from this test. At this level it is more a test of temperament than skill. The two Indian spinners are not really that great or unplayable. Some odd ball is going to cause problems but if KP or Bell or Patel or Prior begin to play attacking cricket, the fields could spread and England could then have it easy. Yet, the big worry for England is that India have a huge cushion in this test and can afford to continue with attacking field for long.

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2012, 0:50 GMT

    The ground is called Patel, so Patel would score big runs on Patel ground...after all he is Indian ;)

  • Dummy4 on November 17, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    @match_referee scoring runs at snails pace on flat wickets. You English men will never accept a turning wicket as a sportive wicket. Just ask your batsmen on how they were dumb folded by the amount of turn which was on offer from Indian spinners.

  • Nicholas on November 16, 2012, 22:12 GMT

    They must have grabbed Patel aside after him standing in the field for the best part of two days to get such silly answers... He does make a few good points, but with the scorecard as it is and the likes of Broad and Bresnan offering nothing with the bat of late, it's not exactly looking promising. At least two of Cook, KP, Bell, Prior and Patel need a fantastic knock to stay in this game.

  • vinay on November 16, 2012, 20:32 GMT

    patel being an indian may b able to give some resistence to our spin. else eng wud find it difficult.

  • Dummy4 on November 16, 2012, 20:01 GMT

    England think very high of themselves, just like how India cannot produce Fast Bowlers, England can never produce batsmen who can play spin with ease.English players are good in swinging conditions but that doesn't mean that India is a better team. In the given conditions, i would be surprised if England can save a match. It shoudl quite easily be 4-0 and the series should underline 2 facts with one being Ashwins role as a lead spinner and Pujara's ability to toil the best of attacks.

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