Shocked Patel ready to make impression in England team

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The Independent Online

Samit Patel is still recovering from the shock of being named in England's squad for the one-day series against South Africa which starts next week.

He certainly has the credentials to be in the 15-man party, he excelled with bat and ball in the 50-over Friends Provident Trophy earlier this season: He averaged 42 with the bat and picked up 14 wickets at 13.5 runs apiece with his orthodox left-arm spin. But while he thought it had earned him a shout with the Lions, he had no idea his performances had propelled him into the national reckoning.

"When I first got the call I was shocked," admitted Patel, who is certain of being given a warm-up match with England Lions against the tourists either today at Leicestershire's Grace Road ground, or on Saturday at the County Ground in Derby. "I thought Geoff [Miller, the England selector] was only calling me about the England Lions games."

Patel has always been on the England radar since appearing at under-15 level. Under-17 and under-19 followed, the Lions and then England next week are just natural progressions, but his selection, provided he reproduces his FP Trophy form today, Saturday and in the NatWest series, opens up the distinct possibility of his being called up for the tour to India this winter. "I cannot stress enough how much I want to get out there and play for England," he said yesterday.

Patel, who was born in Leicester, but moved with the family to Nottingham when he was two, said: "My family is from Gujarat, so it would be a big deal for me if I were picked to go on England's tour of India this winter. I have got aunts and grandparents over there. They would support me. And of course Ahmedabad would be a big match for me."

But, one step at a time. His first Lions game, whether it is today or Saturday, will also be a big match, and he is preparing for it. "Since I got the call I have been thinking about how I would bowl at particular South African batsmen. I have been visualising their shots and the way they play, visualising what they would try to do." Patel of course will be trying to earn a passage to India.

His ability with the bat potentially gives him a chance to challenge Monty Panesar for a place as England's Test spinner and Patel admitted he sought the advice of New Zealand captain Daniel Vettori during his brief stay at Trent Bridge as an overseas player five years ago.

"I look up to Danny Vettori," said Patel. "He has a great Test record and one-day record and you'd be daft not to look at the way he bowls.

"He's been great, he was really good. I picked his brains. He wasn't there [at Nottinghamshire] for that long which is a shame, but he is one of the top left-arm spinners."

As for Panesar, he is optimistic about the trip to India. "We won the last Test match and it was nice to finish the series on a good note," he said. "We will take this on board and hopefully we will do well in the winter."