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Don't label Samit

Bits-and-pieces player? Sorry, you're wrong

Alex Bowden

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A
Samit Patel reflects on England's huge defeat in Delhi, October 18, 2011
Samit Patel: not less than an allrounder; not less anything © Getty Images
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Teams: England

It was put to me this week that Samit Patel is a bits-and-pieces cricketer. I bridled at this assertion without quite knowing why.

Now, I'll be honest, early exposure to the sight of Ian Austin barrelling in to bowl has left me with a deep-seated appreciation of well-fed cricketers, but I don't consider Samit to be one of my absolute favourites. I'm pretty sure my reaction to this pejorative labelling was based on logical but unconscious reasoning rather than being a purely emotional response. After all, the newly svelte Samit is a fading star in the fat-cricketer firmament these days.

So what was it then? Why was I so instantly convinced that Samit Patel is not a bits-and-pieces cricketer? Well, I guess the obvious thing to do is to first try and define what constitutes a bits-and-pieces cricketer.

For many people, an allrounder has to be worth his place in the side as a batsman or bowler alone in order to justify inclusion. If this is the case, is a bits-and-pieces cricketer someone who doesn't pass muster in either discipline?

Samit Patel "does a job" as a bowler, and while he's a decent batsman, he's probably not one of the six best in England. However, I still can't bring myself to pin the "bits and pieces" badge to one of his moobs. He's just too good a batsman. His county, Nottinghamshire, consider him good enough to bat in the top four.

Samit Patel is a worthy batsman whose physique and lifestyle constrain him to fingerspin. He's basically the next Darren Lehmann. Even if he finds his way into England's Test team in a bits-and-pieces role - batting at seven, bowling a few fill-in overs - he's fundamentally more than that.

It's to do with potential and expectations. Samit Patel might well find himself batting down the order, but you still feel he might just have a Test hundred in him. This would never be the case with a bits-and-pieces cricketer worthy of the name. Bits-and-pieces cricketers are selected in the sure knowledge that they will deliver mediocrity and nothing more. A player who so much as threatens to make a meaningful contribution in a match is something else entirely.

Think of men like Dermot Reeve. These are players you pick envisaging a best-case scenario where they score 20-odd down the order and take 1 for 60 with bowling that you assume must be spin but isn't.

Or what about the greatest bits-and-pieces cricketer of them all, New Zealand's Chris Harris? A cricketer, yes. But was he a batsman? Was he a bowler? The truth is, he was neither - and he was less besides. Harris earned himself 250 one-day internationals, in which he averaged 29 with the bat - despite being not out in a quarter of his innings - and 37.50 with the ball. Admirable stuff. That's what cricket's all about.

So there we have it. To call Samit Patel a bits-and-pieces cricketer may be disrespectful to the man himself, but it's also disrespectful to a noble lineage of dobbers and hackers who are truly worthy of that illustrious label.

RSS FeedAlex Bowden blogs at King Cricket

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Comments: 11 
Posted by   on (March 4, 2012, 5:26 GMT)

Chris Harris. Test batting average 20.4, Test bowling average 73.1. LEGEND.

Posted by   on (March 3, 2012, 6:26 GMT)

There are two running themes in your write up: one, "bits and pieces"; the other "physical" . On the latter, please take a look at guys like Sehwag, Jesse Ryder, Richard Levi et al from the current crop.They are all good players and good entertainers. As far as the past is concerned, there are many illustrious names rolling out from my memory: Arjuna Ranatunga, Inzamam, Boon, Gatting, ... the best of all, Merv Hughes chasing the ball to the boundary. Watching "Merv the Walrus" doing that, and occasionally stopping the ball within the boundary used to give me immense pleasure! We have to retain and encourage a few such entertainers!

Posted by   on (March 3, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

bad article...i saw his batting..he is good n morever they mentioned abt harris and his batting average despite bng not out in quater of the innings but they forgot to mention that he batted at number 8 postion most of his life!!!

Posted by   on (March 3, 2012, 4:01 GMT)

Alex, please don't quit your day job.

Posted by Jonathan_E on (March 3, 2012, 1:16 GMT)

For me, a "bits and pieces cricketer":

-- isn't quite good enough to command a place in whatever passes for his primary discipline (batting or bowling) unless he could chip in on a reasonably regular but not world-beating basis with useful hauls in the other.

-- or, if both are equal, then he's "there or thereabouts" with both, but there are at least six specialist batsmen and four specialist bowlers you'd rather have in the team ahead of him.

A classic example: Mark Ealham - technically a bowler - was not quite good enough to be selected as a bowlerfor England if he'd batted 11. However he did score a 50 in an early match and got a few more Tests on the strength of being sufficiently "bits and pieces" that he might be a good support player with either bat or ball - maybe a combined number 7 batsman and fourth bowler. Unfortunately his batting declined and his bowling wasn't good enough without it.

Posted by cricknomad on (March 2, 2012, 17:06 GMT)

Step forward Matthew Fleming

Posted by   on (March 2, 2012, 16:41 GMT)

why is it that only military medium pace 'tundlers'are considered in bits and pieces players...like indias robin singh,nz's cris harris....and not ravindra jadeja,yusuf pathan,who have not justified themselves as geniune allrounders w=even after 50+ odis

Posted by   on (March 2, 2012, 16:40 GMT)

why is it that only military medium pace 'tundlers'are considered in bits and pieces players...like indias robin singh,nz's cris harris....and not ravindra jadeja,yusuf pathan,who have not justified themselves as geniune allrounders w=even after 50+ odis

Posted by CapitalC on (March 2, 2012, 16:30 GMT)

Devoted to Samit, are you.? lets start a fan club. he he.... he's an entertainer alright, even if you abstain from imagining those bits that you so lovingly allude to.

Posted by Jayco on (March 2, 2012, 14:29 GMT)

It's really all about how good the allrounder is. Sobers, Imran Khan, Richard Hadlee, Botham, Kallis these were outstanding allrounders. Chris Harris, Chris Cairns etc, are pretty good allrounders. Ravindra Jadeja, Samit Patel etc are ok allrounders, and have some potential to get better. A "bits-and-pieces" player is simply an allrounder who's not in the Sobers or Kallis league. It's like saying Dominic Cork is a good bowler, but not as good as McGrath.

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