Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Patel puts positive spin on one-day dumping

Being 12th man for the New Zealand cricket team for four years has got Jeetan Patel enough airpoints to go to the moon but not many wickets.

So many tours but so few opportunities may have caught up with the 29-year-old Wellington offspinner.

While he has mixed cordial and rolled his arm over in the practice nets, his rivals back in New Zealand have had the benefit of consistent cricket and are suddenly snapping at his heels in the limited-overs arena.

One in particular – Nathan McCullum.

Last week McCullum was preferred for the one-day series against Pakistan in Abu Dhabi next month.

The choice was notable because the selection panel included Daniel Vettori, one of Patel's big supporters in the past few years. Vettori said McCullum's superior batting tipped the scales.

Patel said yesterday that he was disappointed to be dropped but believes there is an upside.

He feels a solid few weeks of bowling with Wellington and for his club, Eastern Suburbs, might be better for him long term than getting the odd game in Pakistan.

"I always want to play for New Zealand, I would bust my backside to do that," Patel said. "Missing selection last week was disappointing, but it gives me an opportunity to put things in perspective and start working a little harder on a few things."

Patel won't concede to a lack of cricket over the past three years proving detrimental to his development.

However, he does admit the Sri Lankan tour, when he bowled below expectations, and the Champions Trophy final against Australia, when he was thrown in the deep end and struggled, are performances worthy of scrutiny.

"The last four weeks have been hard with not playing and then to play the final. That was a great privilege but we didn't win.

"Time at home to hone my skills might be good for me. I can sleep in my own bed for a little bit and play some cricket for Wellington and put some performances on the board."

Patel made his test debut against South Africa in April 2006. Since then New Zealand have played 23 tests and Patel just eight of them. In the one-day arena, he debuted against Zimbabwe in August 2005. Since then New Zealand have played 95 ODIs, 38 of them involving Patel.

"I'm not having a dig at anyone but I do wonder if playing [for Wellington] is more beneficial than training [with New Zealand]," he said. "I can take as many wickets as I want in the nets but is that going to help me? It is trying to get wickets in a game that counts and to get my record and my confidence up."

Patel nominates more variety in his bowling, some technical matters in his action, and his batting as areas he wants to brush up on between now and the first test against Pakistan in Dunedin, starting on November 24.

makes the 13 he probably won't make the 11 given the seamer-friendly conditions at that time of year.

"The ball is back in my court so I need to make sure I am going forward in every aspect, from bowling, to fielding, to fitness.

"Rather than being grumpy about not being selected, I've got to find a way to get my excitement back and I think the best way is to get back on the park playing again."


Name: Jeetan Patel
Age: 29
Description: Right-arm offspin

Tests: 9 matches, 33 wickets at an average of 39.06
ODIs: 39 games, 42 wickets at 36.02, economy 5.03
First-class: 81 matches, 171 wickets at 41.86

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