One day, somewhere, a cricket blogger will write an article about Samit Patel without mentioning grub. But until that time, I’m going to continue writing headlines like the one above. Sorry Samit.
As some form of consolation, however, we’re tempted to endorse Patel’s claims for a place in the test side. First of all, his nearest competitor for the sixth batting spot, Ravi Bopara, has injured his side. Consequently, he’s unlikely to be able to bowl for a while.
Patel’s bowling, on the other hand, is fit (well, kind of) and raring to go. His spinners were just as impressive as Graeme Swann’s off breaks in the victory against the Sri Lankan Development XI and we’ll probably need all the slow bowlers we can get.
The Sri Lankan heat is no place for English seamers – and like camels, we reckon Samit’s physique (and unsightly bumps) make him ideally suited to 40 degree heat. Meanwhile, that Ravi is just skin and bones. He doesn’t have the physical reserves of energy required to come back fighting at the end of the day. If one of them has to get the hump, we’d rather it was Bopara.
Of course, we could call up Bressie Lad. You can always rely on a Yorkie to give 100%. Unfortunately however, yorkies tend to melt if left in the sun for too long. Patel’s excellent half century in England’s second warm up game could have wrapped up his place in the side.
The form of Ian Bell, however, continues to be a worry. The selectors can only repeat the ‘form is temporary, class is permanent matra’ so many times. England need runs in the present. At some point, we reckon Belly is bound to come good. But when? If he fails in the first test perhaps he should be rested for the second?
Fortunately however, Sri Lanka don’t have Saeed Ajmal. And with a bit of luck the pitches will be slightly bouncier than the ones in the UAE. Maybe an lbw shout will be given ‘not out’ at some point in the forthcoming series? The likes of Bell can only hope.
I am a firm fan of 6 batsmen / 4 bowlers but given Bopara’s injury, i would be tempted to play Prior at 6 and Patel at 7.