Reformed Patel boxes clever
Samit Patel has a Queensland kickboxer and plenty of hard graft to thank for his return to England colours.
Before his recall in July, the all-rounder had spent two and a half years out of the reckoning after selectors concluded that his lack of fitness and willingness to improve were serious issues.
Patel began to put himself back in the frame the moment he accepted he had a problem, but it was still a long road which finally led to his hard-earned place in England’s squad for this four-week tour of India.
The circuitous route even took in Australia last winter, not to be part of England’s Ashes glory but to make sure he was in the best possible shape.
“I went to Brisbane, funded by the ECB at the start, and then I paid for myself to go back there,” Patel said. “That was a fitness thing; I didn’t play any cricket.
“I worked with a kickboxer from Brisbane. It was great - good fun.”
Patel, whose left-arm spin and middle-order batting may prove key to England’s prospects in five ODIs and a Twenty20 on what are expected to be slow surfaces, promises he has learned the error of his ways.
The 26-year-old, discarded after England’s last unsuccessful one-day tour of India in 2008, said: “If I did the right stuff I was very confident of getting back and I had good vibes from the management. I knew my cricket wasn’t the issue; it was the other stuff.”
However, Patel cannot afford to be complacent in an era when team director Andy Flower makes self-improvement a constant pre-requisite for any England player.
“It’s a big one really,” Patel added. “To be willing to do the work and show the attitude to do it was a big thing for me.
“I hope I’ve overcome that now. Not fully yet - it doesn’t change overnight. There is a long way to go.”
Among Patel’s regrets is that he did not do quite enough in time to join England at the World Cup in India earlier this year.
“It was huge - very disappointing,” he said. “The fact that I should have been there was so disappointing. But I can’t blame anyone else but myself.”
The solution came via an apparently tardy realisation, and then a resolve to keep doing the right thing.
“It’s a combination (of things): training harder, doing the hours,” Patel revealed. “The willingness to train was probably one of the issues, but attitude-wise I’m back on track and going in the right direction.”
He accepts the motivation has to be his, not forced on him by others, adding: “You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make it drink. But things are going quite well.
“I’ve lost a bit of weight and, attitude-wise, training is the big one for the ECB and England, the willingness to do the work. Maybe I didn’t show that but now I’m doing it.”