Patel hopes sheer weight of runs will nudge the selectors


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The Independent Online

Samit Patel has shown plenty of hunger in the past, and today he needs to show the England selectors he has an appetite for big runs and a desire to cut the mustard at the highest level.

Patel made his Test debut in Sri Lanka but was down at No 7 in the batting order and bowled a few overs of serviceable spin as the fifth-choice bowler.

Today he returns to county action with Nottinghamshire, whose director of cricket Mick Newell has confirmed that Patel will bat at No 4 in today's first division County Championship match against Durham at the Riverside.

If Patel cashes in and gets a couple of hundreds in the next fortnight, he could force the selectors' hands and earn a berth in the key No 6 position for the first Test against the West Indies at Lord's on 17 May.

The favourite to fill that No 6 position would seem to be Essex's Ravi Bopara, who has toured with England all winter without getting a game, but Patel knows that if he fills his boots he could leap up the pecking order. Eoin Morgan is seemingly out of the running seeing as he has decided to play in the IPL rather than county cricket at the start of the season.

Another England left-arm spinner in action today will be Monty Panesar as Sussex visit Liverpool to take on the reigning champions, Lancashire. Whether or not Panesar gets any meaningful overs under his belt is a moot point. With a top temperature of 10C and showers forecast, Aigburth is likely to be a greentop. Those conditions should favour Lancashire's battery of seamers, including Sajid Mahmood, Kyle Hogg, Tom Smith and, of course, Glen Chapple, today named as one of Wisden's five cricketers of the year.

Sussex are looking to bounce back from last week's disappointing opening defeat to Surrey. The Brown Caps today travel north of the river Thames to take on Middlesex at Lord's. Neither the Middlesex opener Andrew Strauss (rested) nor Surrey batsman Kevin Pietersen (IPL) will be in action.

In the final first division game today, Warwickshire (minus Ian Bell and Jonathan Trott, rested) host Somerset, for whom Vernon Philander will be leading their attack.