Samit Patel, a hard-hitting middle-order batsman and a more-than-capable slow left-arm bowler, has been one of the most watchable county cricketers of his generation but he will go to his grave feeling he was hard done by in a sporadic England career. He had several opportunities to make his mark for England, especially in limited-overs cricket, without ever quite holding down a regular place. Six Tests without much of an impact and 36 ODIs with an average of 32, and excellent strike rate of 95, but only one half-century, told of a player whose consistency had not been adorned by big, eye-catching contributions.
Patel has been involved in a permanent attempt to persuade England that his fitness levels are acceptable but he has never entirely managed it, not helped by the fact that the left-arm slows that made him an especially tempting option in Asia turned out to lack the guile to trouble the best players.
His early career was full of promise. He represented England at Under-15, Under-17 and Under-19 levels, and was awarded the Test Match Special Young Cricketer of the Year award in 2000 for his impressive performances in the Under-15 World Cup. He made his debut for Nottinghamshire 2nd XI at the age of just 14, in late 1999 but it wasn’t until 2006 that he finally began to show signs of realising his potential, scoring 156 not out against Middlesex, an innings in which he went from 100 to 150 in just 17 balls.
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