Flower: Patel's refusal to shed pounds cost him World Cup place

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The Independent Online

Samit Patel now faces being remembered for ever as the fat boy who refused to get fit to play for England. It was revealed yesterday that Patel, who is more reluctant to lose pounds than an investment banker protecting his bonus, was on the verge of making England's World Cup squad.

But a last-minute fitness Test showed that Patel, the 26-year-old Nottinghamshire all-rounder, was not ready to be considered for selection for the tournament, which is to be played in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh starting next month. "Very recent and very clear," said England coach Andy Flower in reiterating the reasons for Patel's continued non-inclusion.

By now, Patel would have been a regular member of England's limited-overs side and is gifted enough as a middle-order batsman to have pressed for inclusion in the Test side. But he has resisted several warnings about the need to improve his fitness, first by losing weight, then by simply spending a little more concentrated effort in the gym.

"He was chosen in the squad because his type of player would be very useful in the subcontinent," Flower said. "He was chosen on the condition that he would improve his physical state. He hasn't done that. It is very frustrating but only the individual is responsible for that."

Flower said that Patel was not alone among potential England players in failing to meet the fitness requirements in recent years, though he declined to name the others. But he confirmed that Patel, who played 11 matches for England in 2008 and still shines for Nottinghamshire, would have been "very much in the frame".

"It's not really the number of chances," said Flower. "All we're saying is 'get into reasonable shape'. It doesn't have to be perfect. In fact, all we want to see is an improvement but a significant improvement. We don't expect any of our guys to be perfect physically, but we do expect them to work hard and it is an indication of your mindset and how much you want to play for England, to be able to discipline yourself to do that sort of thing.

"You have to make good decisions to get yourself into good physical shape. We want tough, determined cricketers playing for England and he is not indicating that he is capable of that. It would be sad if he looks back on his career and he hasn't done something everyone is capable of. Everyone is capable of hard work, it just takes a bit of discipline."

It was a message that could have been sent to all those who would follow Patel's chosen path (and one that is also being ignored by the much-vaunted Indian Premier League, where dollars count more than any pounds you care to mention).

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