Cricket: I'm definitely not a saviour - Jeetan Patel

By Andrew Alderson in Kolkata

Jeetan Patel is set to return to the Black Caps for his first test in three years.
Jeetan Patel is set to return to the Black Caps for his first test in three years.

The temptation exists to paint Jeetan Patel's international return in Kolkata as a form of serendipity for New Zealand against India.

The reality is if the 36-year-old is picked, he will face few greater challenges in his career against host batsmen who are spin-playing maestros.

Patel has been a tour de force with the ball for Warwickshire in county cricket in recent seasons, but the Black Caps have not used his talents since he opted out of the West Indies tour in 2014.

Fellow off spinner Mark Craig's side strain created a needs-must situation before New Zealand's first test in Kolkata for 51 years.

"I'm definitely not a saviour," Patel said at practice yesterday. "I'm just excited to play test cricket again, and to come over to join a bunch of lads going somewhere is pretty special.

"I want to keep it simple and enjoy it. That's such a throwaway comment in sport, but it means a lot to me to be with these guys and have as much fun as I can.

"I want to be that energy the team needs, and be a guy youngsters can talk to about the game."

Patel topped the English first-class wicket tables with 69 at 24.02 this season, equal with the retiring Graham Napier of Essex.

He also headed the Players' Association most valuable player table, repeating his achievement of 2014.

Warwickshire finished sixth of nine teams in division one, but Patel helped his side win the Royal London Cup one-day final by eight wickets against Surrey on September 17. He returned figures of two wickets for 28 runs from nine overs.

His initial flight from England to India was cancelled, but he rolled his arm over at practice and is expected to gain his 20th test cap, and first since January 2013.

"I don't know if anyone is ever 'ready' to play test cricket, hopefully I've done enough work to execute my skills. I've spent seven years playing 11 months on the bounce and bowled a lot of overs. Hopefully those will help me if I get the nod."

The wicket had a greenish tinge when former Indian captain Sourav Ganguly unveiled it to New Zealand coach Mike Hesson and batting mentor Craig McMillan. However, the strip was soon exfoliated and brushed free of excess grass before those minding the covers replaced them as insurance against thunderstorms. They never came yesterday, but are forecast to arrive every day of the test in the early afternoon.

- NZ Herald

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