Samit Patel ready to fight for Test spot


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The Independent Online

Samit Patel is no longer willing to let concerns over his fitness stand in the way of his England ambitions.

The Nottinghamshire all-rounder is on his first Test tour in Sri Lanka, having done enough in recent one-day series against India and Pakistan to earn a summons in the longer format.

A Test call once appeared unlikely, with team director Andy Flower making no secret about his worries over the 27-year-old's weight and conditioning.

But Patel has made noticeable improvements in both departments over the last year and is under consideration for a Test debut in Galle on March 26, where his ability as a third spin option could come in handy.

He was the only member of the one-day squad that faced Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates to join the group of seven early arrivals in Sri Lanka last week - a fact that stands testament to his new-found willingness to meet England's exacting standards.

"I'm not frustrated (about the focus on his condition), fitness is a key factor and everyone has to work hard on their fitness - some more than others," he said ahead of the squad's first full training session in Colombo.

"It's probably an issue that will stay with me. But the more work you do, the better you feel. It's a confidence thing, getting back into shape, and it's about doing the right things. Hopefully I'm doing the right things now."

Patel also accepts he may have to take on a greater workload than some of his team-mates to keep himself fit, but is ready to do so in order to fulfil his ambitions of becoming a Test player.

"Extra sessions are going to have to be done and you just have to get on with it," he said.

"You have to do the hard yards and the extra sessions that some might not need to.

"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.

"It's easy to get here, the toughest bit is staying in the squad and staying in the team.

"I'm ready to come in, 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 has been elevated to the Test squad having achieved a measure of consistency in an England one-day side that has frequently lacked that quality.

He understands he may yet have to wait to earn a first Test cap, with Ravi Bopara marginally ahead of him in the queue to take Eoin Morgan's spot in the team, but is ready to take any chance to prove his credentials.

"This is a different thing for me because I've never been in a Test squad before and I'm excited really," said Patel.

"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.

"This is my first Test squad so easing my way in could be a crucial factor, but opportunities will arrive at some point.

"Having more games under my belt will be crucial for me too and just doing the skills out here, on and off the field, that are right for me."