Sri Lanka v England 2011-12 March 24, 2012

Samit Patel's Sri Lankan sauna test

In the sapping heat of Galle and Colombo, a certain portly player might be about to discover whether he has the stuff to become an England Test cricketer
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Samit Patel will already have come to regard Sri Lanka as his personal sauna. Instead of a simple pine-stripped room, his sauna comes with palm trees and an ocean view, but the effect will be much the same. It is here, in the sapping heat of Galle and Colombo, that Patel might be about to discover whether he has the stuff to become an England Test cricketer.

April on the west coast of Sri Lanka is the most draining of months and April is almost upon us. Humidity levels soar before the south-west monsoon, and many of Colombo's wealthier citizens head for the hills in search of relief. By the time England reach Colombo for the second Test, April will be well and truly biting.

Any England fan trying to jog around Galle Fort's ramparts is likely to be picked off the ground with a suction pump. Even those who have had a lifetime's resistance to air-con are lolling in the boutique hotels along the coast and wondering whether a little relief might be in order.

Dare England really fling Patel into such a demanding situation, where merely to raise an eyebrow can cause a rivulet of sweat to head off in a different direction? Patel is an accomplished cricketer but is he a resilient one? He has been one of England's most rounded batsmen on Asian pitches in the past year, but he has been rounded, too, in terms of body shape and a five-day Test in Sri Lanka would test his fitness levels to the utmost.

There are many ways in which England can include Patel in Galle and just as many reasons for overlooking him. Praise him as an in-form batsman with a decent method against spin, accentuate the value of his left-arm slows; if you want him badly enough he gets in the side. He could play in a team of five specialist batsmen or six. He could be preferred to Bell or Bopara, Swann or Panesar. Most persuasively, he could be the fifth-bowler insurance in a four-strong attack. In another convoluted theory about England's best XI, his fate can be linked with Tim Bresnan. It all comes down to whether Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower, captain and coach, want him involved.

In Nottingham, they like to say that Patel throws right-handed, bats left-handed and eats with both hands. He will never quite lose an element of self-delusion which allows him to talk proudly of his fitness drive while stopping at the shop to buy a Mars bar. Now what he yearns to grab with both hands is a Test debut

Arjuna Ranatunga, the most combative of Sri Lankan captains, the man who led them to their World Cup victory in 1996, would never have found favour in the disciplined, fitness-conscious world supervised by Flower, but somehow he survived the heat, often irritating England by walking his runs and positioning himself strategically in the field so that chasing the ball was a rare occurrence. Duleep Mendis, another former captain, who led Sri Lanka to their first Test series victory in 1985, was also a batsman of comfortable shape. Patel will look upon their success and find hope.

They had no embarrassment about walking their runs. England players are taught to push hard, to turn singles into twos. In Sri Lanka, in the long game, that is viewed as suicidal. The tendency is to stroll a single or bash a four. Five-day Tests are about physical survival. It might just be that Patel subconsciously knows this and has the game to suit.

But Sri Lankans are taught from birth how to preserve energy in such heat: Patel was born in Leicester. On the more rural Sri Lankan cricket grounds, spectators will look for the shade of a coconut tree. They sit in line, like Olympic rowers, so that all of them benefit from the shade provided by the trunk of the tree, and as the shade slowly moves like the hands of a clock, they move too.

Unlike Ranatunga and Mendis, batting is only part of Patel's role. If he wins a place at No. 6, it will be because his left-arm spin can help to balance the England side. England expect Test hundreds from their batsman at No. 6, not useful 30s. The demands on Patel, who has never before played a five-day match, would be never-ending. And, unlike Sri Lanka's last Test in Galle against Australia, when the pitch was underprepared in a failed attempt to help the home spinners, the groundsman, Jayananda Warnaweera, insists the match will last into the fifth day this time.

Conservationists are pressing for protection for the elephant in Sri Lanka. Pink elephants are even rarer, but they are what Tim Munton once saw bowling for England A in Colombo in the early '90s. Munton played just two Tests but he was regarded as a county workhorse at Warwickshire. After five overs his legs wobbled, he became disoriented and was laid out in the dressing room and put onto a drip. One of England's stoutest batting performances in back-to-back Tests came from Graham Thorpe in Kandy and Colombo, when Nasser Hussain's England side won in Sri Lanka in 2001. As England celebrated a series victory built on discipline and bloody-mindedness, Thorpe barely had the energy to turn on his PlayStation.

Patel is in Sri Lanka as recognition for his assertive batting in ODIs in Asia over the past year, the only batsman to have achieved that apart from Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen. He is also a little bit fitter and slimmer, although the last time it was revealed his bleep-test rating, a much-improved 12, was still slightly below the 12.5 that England normally regard as an acceptable minimum. There is no doubt, though, that his approach has improved, and that in the UAE he took two diving catches, at short extra and short midwicket, that would surely have passed him by a year earlier.

His fitness drive last winter even included some time in Australia, in a Brisbane gym run by a Thai kick-boxing champion, Shannon "Shaggy" King. He was given 15km runs in 35°C temperatures and asked to bat with a 12kg bat, more than four times the normal weight, while weighed down by a 10kg weight vest.

In Nottingham, they like to say that Patel throws right-handed, bats left-handed and eats with both hands. He will never quite lose an element of self-delusion which allows him to talk proudly of his fitness drive while stopping at the shop to buy a Mars bar. Now what he yearns to grab with both hands is a Test debut. It could be time for England to find out the truth.

Edited by Abhishek Purohit

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • JG2704 on March 27, 2012, 20:08 GMT

    @CaptSK on (March 26 2012, 13:11 PM GMT) Lovely little story there. Well done

  • JG2704 on March 27, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    @ Cricket_theBestGame on (March 26 2012, 04:11 AM GMT) Can see both sides. If all the other players are made to work hard on their fitness etc then it could cause resentment in the camp if one or 2 are being let off.Obviously SP is fit enough acc to the powers that be. We also have Monty in the side who is no springbok either.

  • Wolfpac on March 26, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    Arjuna Ranatunga, the most combative of Sri Lankan captains, the man who led them to their World Cup victory in 1996, would never have found favour in the disciplined, fitness-conscious world supervised by Flower, but somehow he survived the heat, often irritating England by walking his runs and positioning himself strategically in the field so that chasing the ball was a rare occurrence.

    I laughed out loud at this, good ol Arjuna casually walking his single was a sight. But, remember he was also a quick runner between wickets when its necessary. He can sprint suprisingly fast

  • Subu on March 26, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    Well, it should had been titled England's Sauna test and not just Samit Patel; The author seems to have forgotten that cricketing skills (read as Slow/Spin bowling) and attitude to bat in dusty bowls than agility/top fitness is required to play in Sub continent conditions . Also why is there a reference to Ranatunga/Mendis/Samit Patel for portly/unfit atheletes when England had some of the Popular Steam locomotives in the likes of Mike Gatting, Derek Pringle, Darren Gough/Fraser (in their later stages) representing their country for a longer time.

    Absolute Filth !!

  • on March 26, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    It is silly how players like Patel and Paneshwar are so like their cultural counter parts in India like Gautam and Sehwag or Zaheer...though to be fair to Indians I think it is more cultural than genes when you have good fielders like Kohli, Raina and Tiwari who are as good as any out there...

  • Cricket_theBestGame on March 26, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    eng should stop this obesession for the fittest soldiers in the side! if little bit round shape was a problem then we wouldn't have seen ranatunga and SL wouldn't be where it is today. he put the bloody mindness in their attitude to cricket...then there would be no shane warne the greatest ever leg spinner..and Inzimam who used to cream bowlers....let samit play and let him be fit as much as his body naturally alllows..who cares if he 10punds haveier than cook or strauss etc if he ends up scoring 50s, 100s.

  • jmcilhinney on March 26, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    @Lovetesh, there are no ODIs. This tour consists of 2 Tests and that's all, so that's why people are talking about it. Keep up. Monty and Swann will play ahead of him as front-line spinners but if Patel gets picked it will be as a batsman who can bowl a bit. The fact that Bopara will be unable to bowl a bit is one of the reasons that Patel's chances of getting a game have increased, but he would be in there primarily for his batting.

  • JG2704 on March 25, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    @Lovetesh on (March 25 2012, 17:09 PM GMT) Sammit is a batsman who bowls spin and not the other way around. If Eng do select him - and I'd go with him over Ravi and Bell right now - it won't be as a spinner , it will be as a batsman.

  • SDHM on March 25, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    Nutcutlet - Ravi is also of Indian descent remember, so if we're talking genetic disposition he's just as likely to be able to cope as Samit. JG makes a good point - Patel is most definitely a batsman who bowls. Better than a part-time bowler certainly, but not a genuine all-rounder by a long way. There really isn't much to choose between the two of them - both average 41 in FC cricket, both bat in the top four for their county sides. Patel is a more aggressive player and therefore, for me, more suited to the number six position - he can hammer home an advantage or he can help launch a counter-attack if you're under the cosh. I'm beginning to lean towards going with Bresnan and move Prior up to six; I know I said why weaken the batting when it was what failed against Pakistan, but as fit as Jimmy and Broad are, I'm not sure two seamers is enough in the Galle heat and humidity!

  • Lovetesh on March 25, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    In tests, Monty and Swann will play ahead of him. ODIs will be D/N so what is the problem for Samit Patel? Author is magnifying a small issue here.

  • JG2704 on March 27, 2012, 20:08 GMT

    @CaptSK on (March 26 2012, 13:11 PM GMT) Lovely little story there. Well done

  • JG2704 on March 27, 2012, 20:05 GMT

    @ Cricket_theBestGame on (March 26 2012, 04:11 AM GMT) Can see both sides. If all the other players are made to work hard on their fitness etc then it could cause resentment in the camp if one or 2 are being let off.Obviously SP is fit enough acc to the powers that be. We also have Monty in the side who is no springbok either.

  • Wolfpac on March 26, 2012, 18:01 GMT

    Arjuna Ranatunga, the most combative of Sri Lankan captains, the man who led them to their World Cup victory in 1996, would never have found favour in the disciplined, fitness-conscious world supervised by Flower, but somehow he survived the heat, often irritating England by walking his runs and positioning himself strategically in the field so that chasing the ball was a rare occurrence.

    I laughed out loud at this, good ol Arjuna casually walking his single was a sight. But, remember he was also a quick runner between wickets when its necessary. He can sprint suprisingly fast

  • Subu on March 26, 2012, 14:12 GMT

    Well, it should had been titled England's Sauna test and not just Samit Patel; The author seems to have forgotten that cricketing skills (read as Slow/Spin bowling) and attitude to bat in dusty bowls than agility/top fitness is required to play in Sub continent conditions . Also why is there a reference to Ranatunga/Mendis/Samit Patel for portly/unfit atheletes when England had some of the Popular Steam locomotives in the likes of Mike Gatting, Derek Pringle, Darren Gough/Fraser (in their later stages) representing their country for a longer time.

    Absolute Filth !!

  • on March 26, 2012, 13:07 GMT

    It is silly how players like Patel and Paneshwar are so like their cultural counter parts in India like Gautam and Sehwag or Zaheer...though to be fair to Indians I think it is more cultural than genes when you have good fielders like Kohli, Raina and Tiwari who are as good as any out there...

  • Cricket_theBestGame on March 26, 2012, 4:11 GMT

    eng should stop this obesession for the fittest soldiers in the side! if little bit round shape was a problem then we wouldn't have seen ranatunga and SL wouldn't be where it is today. he put the bloody mindness in their attitude to cricket...then there would be no shane warne the greatest ever leg spinner..and Inzimam who used to cream bowlers....let samit play and let him be fit as much as his body naturally alllows..who cares if he 10punds haveier than cook or strauss etc if he ends up scoring 50s, 100s.

  • jmcilhinney on March 26, 2012, 2:27 GMT

    @Lovetesh, there are no ODIs. This tour consists of 2 Tests and that's all, so that's why people are talking about it. Keep up. Monty and Swann will play ahead of him as front-line spinners but if Patel gets picked it will be as a batsman who can bowl a bit. The fact that Bopara will be unable to bowl a bit is one of the reasons that Patel's chances of getting a game have increased, but he would be in there primarily for his batting.

  • JG2704 on March 25, 2012, 22:30 GMT

    @Lovetesh on (March 25 2012, 17:09 PM GMT) Sammit is a batsman who bowls spin and not the other way around. If Eng do select him - and I'd go with him over Ravi and Bell right now - it won't be as a spinner , it will be as a batsman.

  • SDHM on March 25, 2012, 18:35 GMT

    Nutcutlet - Ravi is also of Indian descent remember, so if we're talking genetic disposition he's just as likely to be able to cope as Samit. JG makes a good point - Patel is most definitely a batsman who bowls. Better than a part-time bowler certainly, but not a genuine all-rounder by a long way. There really isn't much to choose between the two of them - both average 41 in FC cricket, both bat in the top four for their county sides. Patel is a more aggressive player and therefore, for me, more suited to the number six position - he can hammer home an advantage or he can help launch a counter-attack if you're under the cosh. I'm beginning to lean towards going with Bresnan and move Prior up to six; I know I said why weaken the batting when it was what failed against Pakistan, but as fit as Jimmy and Broad are, I'm not sure two seamers is enough in the Galle heat and humidity!

  • Lovetesh on March 25, 2012, 17:09 GMT

    In tests, Monty and Swann will play ahead of him. ODIs will be D/N so what is the problem for Samit Patel? Author is magnifying a small issue here.

  • on March 25, 2012, 13:47 GMT

    '12 kg bat, more than 4 times the normal weight'. I think Mr. Hoops is getting his metric mixed up with his imperial,even 1/4 of 12 kg is equivalent to 6.6 lbs, the average bat is about 2lbs 8 ounces. Also Patel bats right handed, whatever they say in Nottinghamshire!

    As for the make up of the side, England need 5 bowlers with Prior at 6, so no place for Bopara or Patel for me. Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Prior, Bresnan, Broad (Finn if Broad's not fit), Swann, Anderson, Panesar.

  • on March 25, 2012, 13:19 GMT

    Expect England to go in with 4 seamers. The batsmen to play back to balls they should be going forward to (becasue they have not adjusted to the lack of pace and bounce) The seamers break down, the batsmen get out LBW a lot - and England to lose. I'm off to Betfred to win a stack of cash

  • VillageBlacksmith on March 25, 2012, 11:45 GMT

    i really hope Samit plays, the case for him stands out a counrty mile to me, but if UAE is anything to go by, the Andys will make a mistake first up and then include him in the 2nd catch up test and blame him if it all goes wrong ... My tip is sell Bell runs btw

  • JG2704 on March 25, 2012, 10:00 GMT

    @ Big_Kev on (March 24 2012, 21:38 PM GMT) Thanks for your comms. I wasn't sure whether there was a fitness issue or if it is just his figure. My hunch would also be to play Patel as he can also give us some overs although it's amazing how many seem to see Patel's prime asset as his bowling. Even Allot and Coney were saying "He can score runs as well" when discussing the possibility of him playing. I was thinking they should be discussing him as a batsman and say that he can also bowl...

  • Nutcutlet on March 25, 2012, 9:56 GMT

    From my perspective, the arguments for picking Patel on this specific occasion are overwhelming. Genetically, he is equipped to cope with the high heat & humidity; he has shown decent allround form: his bowling may well be worth a couple of wickets and he has done all that can be asked of him both here and in the UAE with his batting and in the field. The fact that he doesn't quite match the beep test fitness-level (probably run in England!) should be neither here nor there. This is SriLanka, not Loughbrough! Were the bleep test run in Galle today, he'd probably do better than some of the others anyway! If this is not his time, when is? And what is the point of having him on tour? On the other hand, the case for Bell is a much less certain affair. Despite his bleep-test score, he's hardly scored a run all winter! Carrying the drinks & towels in Galle - there are worse jobs around!

  • zenboomerang on March 25, 2012, 7:28 GMT

    Interesting dilemma for Strauss as a 3rd seamer is required... He will have to limit his fast bowlers to 4-5 over spells making it awkward to use them efficiently with the new ball with only 2 seamers... Also he doesn't want to over use his bowlers if it turns into a 5 day game... Early break throughs are essential to gaining control of the Tests so I'd include that 3rd fast bowler - especially if Broad plays carrying a niggling injury...

  • zenboomerang on March 25, 2012, 7:24 GMT

    @Herath-UK :- "Why players and media have gone on heat hype"... Couldn't agree more... Patel trained in Brisbane in 36C+ conditions with 80% humidity (wont be that hot or more humid in SL) - watched many matches at the Gabba where unofficial drinks breaks were regularly taken by batters & fielders... Can be harder for the batters (helmets) if they are pushing 2's & 3's... Just keep the liquids & salts up, plus a decent hat - thats all it takes...

  • pradeep_dealwis on March 25, 2012, 7:18 GMT

    great article! Nwas everyone is finding the heat to hard. Even the travel weary lankans will have a hard time!

  • Rahul_78 on March 25, 2012, 7:16 GMT

    Let us first of all agree that Patel doesn't posses international athletes physique. But he is not the first one neither he will be the last. Yesterday limping on his way Shazad played a blinder for afghanistan in Dubai heat and humidity. It is alright assessing top physical fitness with desire and discipline to play cricket at highest level but there always are exceptions in each level in life. In the deadly Srilankan heat Patel with his spin on the low and slow tracks will be much better option then injury prone Bresnan who him self is no lean mean machine and half fit Bopara. He will add that right balance to the English team and his Indian gins might just come to his rescue to tolerate the heat and dust of subcontinent. Patel should do well share a brunch with Rantunga and pick up some tips on energy conservation and go green against Lankan boys. If Mahela, Samarweera, Sangga and co decide to put their head down and put a tent in the middle while batting Poms are in real trouble.

  • JMLowman on March 25, 2012, 7:11 GMT

    In sapping conditions, Panesar will be England's most important bowler because he can bowl long and tight spells. That reduces the appeal of Patel, because Strauss will be very unlikely to bowl him ahead of Panesar. If Broad is fit, England should pick Bresnan on the basis that he's mentally strong and probably as likely to get important middle order runs as either Patel or Bopara, plus he gives five top class bowling options. He's also England's lucky mascot. If England decide to go with six batsmen, the choice between Patel and Bopara has to be based solely on batting ability, and I think on this basis Bopara would deserve to be selected. Batting all-rounders are seductive but rarely effective - if you can't bowl good players out, your bowling shouldn't be a factor in selection.

  • on March 25, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    Around 8th April, the sun aligns directly against Sri Lanka, even Sri Lankans are prone to heatstrokes during this time.... all i can say is good luck to the Pommies and the Barmy Army should invest in good sunscreen and Sri Lankan straw hats.

  • subbass on March 25, 2012, 3:34 GMT

    Good article as sual from Mr Hopps. I have major concerns about Samit's fitness which is why I'd select Bresnan and move Prior up to 6. We'd still have broad at 8 and Swann at 9 backing up the slight concern over Bresnan at 7, but it's simply the best way ! With 5 bowlers they share the workload more and means they can run in with that bit more purpose knowing the spells will be a bit shorter. Also the SL will want to get after our spinners if they can so I am worried about only having 4 bowlers if one or both of Swann and Monty start going at 5-6 r.po.

    However I know they won't, they will risk 4 bowlers only which seems very poor tactics to me and could end up costing us dearly.

  • Nadeem1976 on March 25, 2012, 3:20 GMT

    Patel is just an example in this article, the writer is trying to tell us that it will be extremely difficult for english players to play 5 day cricket in heat of Sri Lanka.

    I totally agree with writer. England needs stamina of steel to win in Sri Lanka. If Mahela and Sanga bats like the usual then most of england players may get injured on third day of test match.

    It's not the heat which hurts, it's humidity which will test english players to next level. Best of luck to all english players.

  • evenflow_1990 on March 25, 2012, 2:57 GMT

    a bleep test of 12 is actually pretty damn good hahaha he can't be that unfit if he can do that!

  • on March 24, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    Patel us still over weight even with all the help and chances he has been given. Someone with so little dedication and discipline does not deserve a position in the side. He's not that good anyway, average batsman and very mediocre non spinning slow bowler.

  • JG2704 on March 24, 2012, 22:40 GMT

    Herath-UK on (March 24 2012, 19:27 PM GMT)

  • JG2704 on March 24, 2012, 22:39 GMT

    @AdrianVanDenStael on (March 24 2012, 18:34 PM GMT) Patel is a batsman just like Bell and Bopara. Di=fference is he bowls more overs than Bopara and is in much better form than Bell. Why do people class Patel as a bowler? BTW If Eng play Patel plus Jimmy,Broad,Monty and Swann that is 4 bowlers plus Patel and not a 5 man attack.

  • JG2704 on March 24, 2012, 22:34 GMT

    Is Patel actually unfit or just a bit slow and overweight? Maybe Notts fans know better than all of us. If there's nothing wrong with his stamina then his speed/agility should be less of a problem in tests compared to ODIs / T20s where he's a regular

  • Big_Kev on March 24, 2012, 21:38 GMT

    What does Patel have to do to convince the press that he is worthy of a place in the team? Having seen him play regularly for Notts, when feilding he is always lively in the circle, and one of the safest pair of hands in the deep. As a batsman he is also more consistant than some who have played regularly for England in ODIs over the past few year. Because the ball does a bit at Trent Bridge, he doesn't make the headline catching centuries that others do on flat pitches. Patel also has recent experience of Sri Lankan conditions from the Lions tour.

    I would play Patel in front of Bopara any day, but fear that the management will stick to their formula.

  • on March 24, 2012, 21:17 GMT

    @Lmaotsetung while we know it remains an issue with the England management who are debating whether to give Samit a Test debut it remains a legitimate debate, because it is the debate that domimates his career. The challenge, of course, is not to keep repeating ourselves in every sentenc and to reflect on other aspects when they become relevent. In Sri lanka, though, the issue naturally comes to a head.

  • Lmaotsetung on March 24, 2012, 20:12 GMT

    I think it's time the journalists give it a rest with this topic. How many more can they write about Samit's fitness....enough is enough people!

  • Herath-UK on March 24, 2012, 19:27 GMT

    Well Hopps though he was born in Leister,his genes are from India so do not worry he can cope it well,I'm sure.Why players and media have gone on heat hype;have they conceded a loss to Sri Lanka already? Ranil Herath - Kent

  • on March 24, 2012, 18:45 GMT

    I dont understand why ppl are at him (patel). but he could definitely gain some tips from ranatunga & mendis.

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 24, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    This article notwithstanding, I suspect Patel probably won't get a chance in the tests, although he probably deserves one. Bringing in Patel would probably seem too radical a solution to this England management, which seems very rigid in its ideas of four specialist bowlers, continuity, and "the next cab off the rank". According to these ideals, Bell will be retained and Bopara is the "cab" in question. So unless Bopara's injuries are more serious than is being suggested, or someone else gets injured, Patel will be out of luck again.

  • simon_w on March 24, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    It's a tough one, isn't it? I really rate Samit Patel, but especially in these conditions his fitness will be really tested. Add this to the fact that we've got lots of first-rate options, and it becomes a tight call -- in a weaker side Samit would be a shoo-in. I can't quite decided what I think the balance should be. We've got Anderson, Finn, Broad and Bresnan, two of whom can really bat, and two can't, and none of them really deserve to be left out. And yet we have to play both Swann and Panesar, surely?

  • stormy16 on March 24, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    I'm readiing the opportunity given to Patel to play for Eng. Special sessions in Aus etc etc - their opposition didnt get paid for a year! Is this even a fair contest?

  • Lord.emsworth on March 24, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    Rotound Ranatunge and his walking singles were the stuff of legend but there wasn't any slugishness in his deft batting. Mr.Hopps seems to have have forgotten Englands own Colin Milburn. A Bunter like figure he later on even played with one eye but like Ranatunge could certainly wield the willow. Patel is been over touted as a fat man. He's proved himself over and over again as an attacking non-slugish batsman, portly but still.....

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 24, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    For years England have toyed with the idea of Patel. A great cricketer in the county game, his fitness has always stood out slightly because England's fitness is historically of such a high level, if not the best in the world, and the workload and athleticism prevalent in the England team since the early 2000's put him in the shade. No one doubts his usefulness with the bat and ball, but he's got to prove he can stand next to the likes of Cook and co and not just meet the required standard, but have the drive to go beyond it.

  • on March 24, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    Well written article. Hope English players can handle the heat and the spin!

  • on March 24, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    Fantastic article. Well written. Keep it up.

  • on March 24, 2012, 15:10 GMT

    Team: 1) Strauss (c) 2) Cook 3) Trott 4) Pietersen 5) Bell 6) Bopara 7) Prior (wk) 8) Broad/Finn (depending on Broad's fitness) 9) Swann 10) Anderson 11) Panesar

    Unlucky for Bres that he operates in an era in which such a English fast-bowling glut exists...

  • jmcilhinney on March 24, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    I think Patel should be commended for his efforts. He's obviously not the most naturally athletic guy but he has put in the hard work and is continuing to do so and his performances have been quite good. I don't really see him as a long-term solution for the England Test team but he was included in this squad because he can provide cover for Panesar as a left-arm spinner and cover for the middle order batsmen. He doesn't really possess either skill in sufficient abundance to be in the team for that reason alone but is useful for the combination. I don't think that Bell is going to be dropped and I don't think that he should. Picking Bopara could be a risk though, depending on the nature of his injury, so Patel might be considered the safer of those two options.

  • 2.14istherunrate on March 24, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    I'm sure if asked to Patel would quite happily walk his runs and waddle around the field, thus mirroring the Sri lankan archetype. It's a quandry really this selection teaser, but I do not seriously think Bell is in line for the chop. What gives Bopara the edge is just experience, otherwise a third spinner would be more value than a phantom seamer.

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  • 2.14istherunrate on March 24, 2012, 14:01 GMT

    I'm sure if asked to Patel would quite happily walk his runs and waddle around the field, thus mirroring the Sri lankan archetype. It's a quandry really this selection teaser, but I do not seriously think Bell is in line for the chop. What gives Bopara the edge is just experience, otherwise a third spinner would be more value than a phantom seamer.

  • jmcilhinney on March 24, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    I think Patel should be commended for his efforts. He's obviously not the most naturally athletic guy but he has put in the hard work and is continuing to do so and his performances have been quite good. I don't really see him as a long-term solution for the England Test team but he was included in this squad because he can provide cover for Panesar as a left-arm spinner and cover for the middle order batsmen. He doesn't really possess either skill in sufficient abundance to be in the team for that reason alone but is useful for the combination. I don't think that Bell is going to be dropped and I don't think that he should. Picking Bopara could be a risk though, depending on the nature of his injury, so Patel might be considered the safer of those two options.

  • on March 24, 2012, 15:10 GMT

    Team: 1) Strauss (c) 2) Cook 3) Trott 4) Pietersen 5) Bell 6) Bopara 7) Prior (wk) 8) Broad/Finn (depending on Broad's fitness) 9) Swann 10) Anderson 11) Panesar

    Unlucky for Bres that he operates in an era in which such a English fast-bowling glut exists...

  • on March 24, 2012, 15:29 GMT

    Fantastic article. Well written. Keep it up.

  • on March 24, 2012, 15:32 GMT

    Well written article. Hope English players can handle the heat and the spin!

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on March 24, 2012, 16:17 GMT

    For years England have toyed with the idea of Patel. A great cricketer in the county game, his fitness has always stood out slightly because England's fitness is historically of such a high level, if not the best in the world, and the workload and athleticism prevalent in the England team since the early 2000's put him in the shade. No one doubts his usefulness with the bat and ball, but he's got to prove he can stand next to the likes of Cook and co and not just meet the required standard, but have the drive to go beyond it.

  • Lord.emsworth on March 24, 2012, 16:38 GMT

    Rotound Ranatunge and his walking singles were the stuff of legend but there wasn't any slugishness in his deft batting. Mr.Hopps seems to have have forgotten Englands own Colin Milburn. A Bunter like figure he later on even played with one eye but like Ranatunge could certainly wield the willow. Patel is been over touted as a fat man. He's proved himself over and over again as an attacking non-slugish batsman, portly but still.....

  • stormy16 on March 24, 2012, 16:55 GMT

    I'm readiing the opportunity given to Patel to play for Eng. Special sessions in Aus etc etc - their opposition didnt get paid for a year! Is this even a fair contest?

  • simon_w on March 24, 2012, 17:57 GMT

    It's a tough one, isn't it? I really rate Samit Patel, but especially in these conditions his fitness will be really tested. Add this to the fact that we've got lots of first-rate options, and it becomes a tight call -- in a weaker side Samit would be a shoo-in. I can't quite decided what I think the balance should be. We've got Anderson, Finn, Broad and Bresnan, two of whom can really bat, and two can't, and none of them really deserve to be left out. And yet we have to play both Swann and Panesar, surely?

  • AdrianVanDenStael on March 24, 2012, 18:34 GMT

    This article notwithstanding, I suspect Patel probably won't get a chance in the tests, although he probably deserves one. Bringing in Patel would probably seem too radical a solution to this England management, which seems very rigid in its ideas of four specialist bowlers, continuity, and "the next cab off the rank". According to these ideals, Bell will be retained and Bopara is the "cab" in question. So unless Bopara's injuries are more serious than is being suggested, or someone else gets injured, Patel will be out of luck again.