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March 6, 2013
Daniel Vettori, the former New Zealand captain, and Jeetan Patel have apologised for their conduct after a night out in Queenstown that left Patel unable to take the field for New Zealand XI during the tour match against England. While neither spinner is currently involved with the international side, confirmation of another drinking incident among its players led New Zealand Cricket to release a statement calling their behaviour "completely unacceptable".
Patel was a late call-up for the New Zealand XI, after Ish Sodhi's withdrawal, and conceded 122 runs from his 21 overs in the match without taking a wicket. He missed the second day's play, reported at the time as due to his feeling unwell, but it has since been revealed that Patel suffered mild concussion after an alleged altercation with a bouncer outside a bar the night before.
NZC said it was "deeply disappointed" with the pair. The news comes after Doug Bracewell was ruled out of the first Test with a cut foot sustained following a party at his house. Bracewell was hurt while cleaning up, although he also apologised for the incident and was "reminded of his responsibilities".
"New Zealand Cricket understands that Jeetan Patel was refused entry to a bar in Queenstown," Fairfax Media reported on Wednesday. "He subsequently fell and hit his head. Patel returned to the team hotel, felt unwell and took himself to A and E.
"Team management has spoken strongly to Patel and Vettori, telling them that their behaviour was completely unacceptable. Both players apologised to team management at the time."
Vettori has not played any cricket since the World Twenty20 and was in Queenstown to work with the New Zealand medical staff as he continues his recovery from an Achilles injury. He said: "My behaviour was completely unprofessional in going out and I should have spent time with Jeetan in another way. I would like to apologise to the NZ Cricket medical team who I was there to work with and to anyone else who is disappointed in my behaviour."
Patel returned to the Test side in Vettori's enforced absence after a strong English season with Warwickshire, where he helped them to the County Championship. He took 11 wickets in four Tests against India and Sri Lanka but was dropped following the tour of South Africa, to be replaced by the uncapped Bruce Martin. Patel, who is not centrally contracted, is understood to have been struggling since the death of his mother in January.
"I am sorry for my behaviour that evening and I accept that it was totally inappropriate for me to be out drinking during a match where I was representing my country," Patel said.
Rumours about Patel surfaced in the aftermath of Bracewell suffering his self-inflicted injury, although NZC initially refused to comment on the matter. In the build-up to the first Test, the New Zealand coach, Mike Hesson, deflected questions about an alleged drinking culture in the set-up.
"We've got really good standards in terms of the expectations we have on our players. They are also human and also spend a lot of time away from the group," Hesson said at the time. "The expectation is that what they do certainly doesn't conflict or affect their preparation and we're pretty strong on that."
Last year, Bracewell and Jesse Ryder were dropped from the ODI squad after breaking team protocol banning the consumption of alcohol. Ryder, who had a history of drink-related indiscretions, has not played for New Zealand since, having embarked on a self-imposed sabbatical from international cricket.
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