Cricket: Jeetan Patel recalled to replace injured Mark Craig

By David Leggat

New Zealand's Jeetan Patel. Photo / Ross Setford
New Zealand's Jeetan Patel. Photo / Ross Setford

You wouldn't have given a dollar for Jeetan Patel's chances of a New Zealand recall - until yesterday.

The Wellington offspinner is back in the national squad and joins the group in India for the second and third tests as a replacement for the injured Mark Craig.

He injured a side muscle bowling during the first test loss in Kanpur, so Patel is in as a like-for-like switch.

Coach Mike Hesson's rationale is that it is important to have an offspinner in India. Patel, 36, fits the bill perfectly, he added. Patel is certainly an intriguing choice.

''Jeetan is up to speed from a bowling load perspective having recently completed a successful county season - so he will be ready for the rigours of test cricket," said Hesson.

''He'll also add invaluable experience to our young spin group."

Patel has been a success with English county Warwickshire, taking 62 first-class wickets to top their aggregates in the top tier of the first-class competition this year.

He also took five wickets in their one-day semifinal against Somerset then two for 28 to help beat Surrey in the final at Lord's by eight wickets a week ago.

Last sighted in New Zealand colours on the ill-starred tour of South Africa in 2013, which began the Hesson-Brendon McCullum coach/captain axis, Patel has taken 52 wickets in 19 tests at a modest 48.46 average.

Perhaps unfairly for Patel, his most memorable contribution to the South African series was scuttling repeatedly and rapidly towards short leg as Dale Steyn and co were throwing down serious heat at him.

Ironically, Craig was the beneficiary when Patel turned down the chance to tour the West Indies in 2014 and has racked up 50 wickets in 15 tests. That was assumed to be the last he'd been seen on New Zealand duty.

Craig is expected to need four weeks to fully recover but should be back challenging for a test place ahead of the two matches against Pakistan in Christchurch and Hamilton in November.

- NZ Herald

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