Samit Patel has won a surprise recall for England for the first time in nearly three years afterZafar Ansari was ruled unfit for the forthcoming series against Pakistan in the UAE because of a hand injury.
Ansari’s selection for what would have been his England debut series was a clear indication that England were looking to the next generation, but Patel has always suggested he has never quite abandoned hope of an England recall and that faith has now been justified.
Patel joins two other spin bowling allrounders in the tour party – Moeen Ali and Adil Rashid – and, as a batsman with the ability to bowl slow left-arm, he is a like-for-like replacement.
For all Patel’s faith that he could force his way back into England reckoning, he has not had a good season. He has taken 25 Championship wickets at 32.40, but he has had an unproductive time with the bat, averaging only 24 in Nottinghamshire’s middle order. Nevertheless, he has shown in his time for England that he plays spin bowling as well as anybody. His director of cricket at Notts, Mick Newell, also insists his red-ball bowling has matured this season, despite an unhelpful summer for spinners.
To a large extent, Patel’s recall encapsulates the dearth of spin bowling options in England, with Middlesex’s spin bowler, Ollie Rayner, arguing on ESPNcricinfo that conditions in England were hostile to the development of spin bowling.
That Patel’s weight will again be a topic for discussion is inevitable, and he will just have to put up with it. It was held to be a reason why England looked elsewhere last season at a time when the Sky TV pundit and former England coach, David Lloyd, termed him the form player in county cricket. He looks trim.
But the old jokes are the good ones. As one cynic was quick to observe when his recall was announced: “Zafar Ansari got a first at Cambridge; Samit Patel had seconds at lunch.”
Patel played five Tests in 2012, taking only four wickets at 62 runs apiece. His last Test was against India in Kolkata in December of that year, a match that England won by seven wickets en route to a remarkable 2-1 series victory.
Upon signing a new three-year deal with Notts in March this year, he insisted: “I still harbour England ambitions and playing with Nottinghamshire will give me the best chance of doing that.”
Ansari is distinctly unfortunate. It was on the day he was called up to his first England Test squad that he suffered an open dislocation of his left thumb against Lancashire at Old Trafford and was sent to hospital.
Surrey confirmed the extent of Ansari’s injury in a tweet at 10pm on Tuesday, but the club had been fearing the worst from the outset. Fielding at cover point, Ansari dropped a very difficult catch off Lancashire’s Ashwell Prince and immediately gestured for assistance from the dressing room. He left the field holding a bandage to his left hand and soon went to hospital.
His withdrawal from the tour was confirmed following an MRI scan during a visit to a hand specialist yesterday. He will now undergo further rehabilitation with his participation in the EPP and Lions tours of the UAE subject to a further assessment from the ECB and Surrey medical teams in approximately three weeks’ time.
“The timing of this injury, on the day his selection was announced, was particularly cruel for Zafar and he is naturally extremely disappointed to have to pull out of the tour,” James Whitaker, the national selector. “As a left-arm spinner and a middle-order batsman, Samit is a similar type of player to Zafar and his previous international experience, and in particular, experience of performing for England in sub-continental conditions will be an extremely useful asset to the squad in the UAE.”
Ansari was one of three players uncapped at Test level included in England’s 16-man squad for the three Test series against Pakistan which starts on October 13. Alex Hales, Patel’s Nottinghamshire team mate, and Rashid were also named.
England Test squad: Alastair Cook (captain), Moeen Ali, James Anderson, Jonny Bairstow, Ian Bell, Stuart Broad, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Samit Patel, Liam Plunkett, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Ben Stokes, James Taylor, Mark Wood.
One-Day International squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Jonny Bairstow, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Steven Finn, Alex Hales, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, James Taylor, Reece Topley, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.
T20 International squad: Eoin Morgan (captain), Moeen Ali, Sam Billings, Jos Buttler, Alex Hales, Chris Jordan, Stephen Parry, Adil Rashid, Joe Root, Jason Roy, Reece Topley, James Vince, David Willey, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood.