He was named the domestic cricketer of the year at the New Zealand Cricket Awards in Auckland, found out not long after tea that the Central Districts Stags had won the Plunket Shield regardless of today's outcome and had claimed his 16th first-class five-wicket bag in Napier yesterday.

So what else could Ajaz Patel possibly want more this summer?

"We're so far the only team who haven't been beaten in the competition and we'd like to keep it that way going into the end of the season," said the 29-year-old left-arm orthodox spinner. Patel also claimed his third consecutive highest wicket-taker title in the four-day Plunket Shield competition entering the last day of their final round match with the Northern Districts Knights on the front foot at Nelson Park.

The William Young-skippered Stags require 408 runs from 98 overs to win with seven wickets in hand.


The highlights yesterday were Patel's 6-143 and ND batsman Daryl Mitchell carving up his sixth first-class ton.

For Patel, akin to his CD teammates, the three-format campaign was always going to be about the collective gains from a summer where the bling hadn't always matched the endeavour.

That is not to say the toiler wasn't over the moon with his personal milestones.

"It's never easy but it's always special," he said.

For the Aucklander it was his highest wicket tally to date in the format - 42 and two more than Logan van Beek, a Wellington Firebirds player.

It was a memorable summer for Patel who had a call up to the New Zealand A side to play England in one of two pink/red-ball warm-up matches at Seddon Park, Hamilton, last month.

"It was a great experience even though I didn't get any wickets in that one but I still enjoyed my time there and learned a lot from it so it was invaluable, the experience I got out of that."

Patel also didn't mind missing the televised NZ Cricket awards in his neck of the woods last night.


"It isn't disappointing at all. I'd rather be here and help finish off the season with a bang because it's obviously a hard-fought season for us so it would be nice to finish it off in style," he said, finding out early afternoon he was the recipient of the domestic award when CD had got off the field.

"I was a bit surprised, to be honest with you," Patel said. "I mean I didn't really seeing it coming. But it's nice when you work really hard and things fall your way so it's a pleasing feeling and I'm happy with that."

For him it is an endorsement of his hard-work ethics for the past couple of years in a nurturing environment that has allowed him to flourish as well as enable him to bowl the way he wants to.

"I've been working hard for the last couple of years to make sure I'm in a good position and I'm grateful that every opportunity I've had I've been successful.

"I certainly put in the hard work and in faith because I believe God does the rest," said the devout Muslim.

No doubt a Black Caps call up "would be nice".

He said the Nelson Park wicket had flattened out to become an ideal surface to bat on.

"They had quite good application in the morning and they fought through the new ball quite well so after that it became pretty nice to bat on," he said, emphasising that's what CD has to do today.

ND showed what was required, having faced 264 balls for 134 runs in their first innings and taking 762 deliveries for 483 runs in their stride in the second dig.

CD, he felt, needed to go out today with good intent in a "decent position" to see where they stand going into lunch.

Patel said NZ Cricket might have to revisit its scheduling for next season to avoid bad light eating into play time daily in first-class matches, after daylight saving time ended last Sunday.

With the Auckland Aces beating the Firebirds by 120 runs yesterday, table-topping CD retain their perch for now despite both sides sitting on 127 points.

"We're grateful to Auckland because the boys can play more comfortably tomorrow," he said, finding out they had won the shield about 45 minutes after tea.

CD Cricket's award nights here tomorrow night would be great with a shield to sign off the season, Patel said.

"It's nice to take the trophy away to finish the season off," he said.