England in Sri Lanka 2011-12 March 12, 2012

Patel aware of fitness challenge


Samit Patel, the England allrounder, is aware that issues regarding his weight and fitness are likely to remain throughout his international career but he is determined to show that he is worthy of a Test debut during the series against Sri Lanka.

Patel was handed his first call-up to a Test squad as a replacement for Eoin Morgan, following a productive few months in the one-day set-up. He could yet be considered for the first Test in Galle although team director Andy Flower said Patel still had "significant work" to do.

"Fitness is a key factor and everyone has to work hard on their fitness - some more than others," Patel said. "It's probably an issue that will stay with me, but I'm not frustrated. The more work you do, the better you feel. Hopefully I am doing the right things now."

Patel is competing with Ravi Bopara for the No. 6 spot vacated by Morgan - unless England change tactics and include Tim Bresnan as the allrounder - and his chances could depend on whether England continue with the combination of two spinners and two quicks they used against Pakistan in the UAE. Monty Panesar made a successful return to the team with 14 wickets in two Tests, and it would be a harsh decision to leave him out, while Graeme Swann remains the No. 1 spinner despite a less productive series against Pakistan.

"I'm ready to come in and bat where I'm asked to bat and do the job with the ball. I'm comfortable with the role I've been set," Patel said. "It's a massive boost for me, having never been in the squad before, and I'm very excited to show everyone what I can really do and take any opportunities I'm given. One of my goals is to play Test cricket. I've always wanted to do that as well as one-day cricket. I want to play all formats for England."

One of the issues that will confront not just Patel but the whole England squad will be adapting to the hot and humid conditions in Sri Lanka. Patel was part of the group of players who flew to Sri Lanka early for training under the guidance of batting coach Graham Gooch, who is confident the visitors can overcome the challenge.

"These are unnatural conditions for English players - we don't get this kind of heat," Gooch said. "It's different to the UAE. It's more humid, the heat is more oppressive ... but they're not going to focus on that. They'll focus on their skills with the bat and ball, and in the field. That is what can hopefully bring us out ahead of Sri Lanka. This is not an obstacle to us, not something to be feared. We have to see it as a challenge."

England's top order is under pressure going into this series following their failure in the UAE during the 3-0 whitewash. They were often rendered scoreless by Saeed Ajmal, Abdur Rehman and Mohammad Hafeez, and spin will again play a central role in this series. Although Sri Lanka's attack doesn't possess the same quality as Pakistan's does, the pitches, especially in Galle, should offer assistance.

"Our skills didn't match up and we were thoroughly beaten by Pakistan," Gooch said. "That's tough to take but you have to take it on the chin and think how you move forward from there. We have to work hard on technique and also on thinking patterns - how are we going to score our runs?

"Our players are capable of improving their performances against this type of bowling and being a lot better than we were against Pakistan. Only time will tell how much of an improvement we can make."

Andrew McGlashan is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Randolph on March 15, 2012, 10:57 GMT

    Great to see @landl47 out of hiding after the Pakistan series. Get ready to go back in.

  • Randolph on March 13, 2012, 15:09 GMT

    Patel, Swann and Monty are average to poor spinners that will be shown to be not even in the same stratosphere as Lyon was in SL. Oh hang on a sec, Swann was already shown to be uselss in Pakistan. Sorry I meant Monty and Patel.

  • Amila on March 13, 2012, 11:07 GMT

    @Meety that was in early days when SL had the batsmen like Aravinda,Arjuna,Atapattu,Hashan but the current lot is different ,they just dont know how to play spinners( except Samaraweera and Sanga) Thats why the Australians with some ordinary spinners had a great time in SL last year

  • Jason on March 13, 2012, 8:21 GMT

    Patel has had fitness problems and hes addressing them, which is a good sign as it strengthens the squad as batsmen will now need to fight for places. One possiblity for 3 seamers and 2 spinners is to have Prior move to 6 and Bresnan come in at 7. I personally hope that Samit gets a chance to play as a regular over the next 12 months, and given the same amount of time as Morgan (unless its blatently obvious).

  • Dummy4 on March 13, 2012, 7:21 GMT


  • Alex on March 13, 2012, 2:51 GMT

    Strauss, Cook, Trott, Pietersen, Bopara, Prior, Broad, Swann, Anderson, Finn, Panesar

    Sorry Samit. Would love to pick him but can't see what he brings to compliment the two spinners or the specialist batsman.

  • Andrew on March 13, 2012, 1:04 GMT

    @priceless1 - are you Indian? SL are as good a players of spin as India. So I have no idea what the heck you are talking about dude! == == == IMO - the issue should not be about fitness as such, he is able to play FC cricket well, but more about what the mix in the side will be. If England want 3 specialist pacers, then Patel may get the nod over Bopara. That is not all though, as the further question comes down to how well either of them can play spin. If Patel is reasonable v spin that is another tick & he gets the jump on Bopara. If England go with Panesar & Swann, then I don't think there is a need for Patel as KP is a reasonable option if they want a couple of overs. Ultimately, I think England will favour 6 specialist batsmen & play 2 spinners. It was England's batting that let them down & playing Patel over Bopara would marginally weaken the batting line up.

  • John on March 13, 2012, 0:20 GMT

    I think Samit would be a great addition to the England side in Sri Lankas. His ODI experience means that he will be able to bowl some tidy overs, might pick up a wicket or two, and his batting is good enough to be a 6 or 7. He seems a lot fitter to me now than he did a couple of years ago and I suspect the England management is just trying to keep him from slacking off (which he has had a tednecy to do in the past). Whether he gets a look-in at test level outside the sub-continent is another matter, but in Sri Lanka (and India this Autumn) I like him more than Bopara for the last spot in the line-up. If England decides to go in with 3 front-line seamers, then it's a no-brainer, Samit plays. Even if England goes in with 2 front-line spinners, I'd rather have a 3rd spinner than a bits and pieces seamer. He's looking good for a test debut!

  • ian on March 12, 2012, 23:57 GMT

    It's fair enough for Flower & the England management to ask Samit to continue to work hard on his fitness. Having produced some handy performances in the UAE ODIs, he knows how close he is to breaking into the Test side. Now fitness is obviously important in all formats, but Test cricket demands that a player is as mentally atuned as he can be, and that is made much more likely if he is in the best physical shape. There is no real division between the physical & mental side; it's called the holistic approach. Those who say,'Never mind, Samit, others have been good enough without being especially fit.' (eg.Jose Puliapatta here) - to them and to Samit himself, I would say 'good enough' is not good enough for this England set-up. A match is to win, quick runs are needed & Samit can't turn ones into twos - a run-out follows. This England side cannot afford to have someone who is beaten by his own condition. This is Samit's motivation. It comes down to how badly does he want that place?

  • Nilantha on March 12, 2012, 22:45 GMT

    Why is Patel being picked if the management are so unhappy with his fitness?surely the answer would be not to pick him wouldn't it...oh no I forgot the media need a new England scapegoat now that KP has started scoring runs again(as I predicted he would) and Morgan has been dropped..it will be bopara next...pathetic... @ priceless- sl the worst players of spin?keep taking your meds pal and you madness will subside...

  • No featured comments at the moment.