Keep your faith, don't let your trust waver, adopt the right attitude and God will open doors.

Central Districts Stags cricketer Ajaz Patel goes by that edict and his naming in the Black Caps 15-member test squad is a testimony to that devotion.

That's just how the 29-year-old left-arm spinner goes about his business to control the controllables through sheer hard work.

"I leave the rest up to God because that's the way I have kind of worked," said Patel after he was called into the squad to replace first-choice Mitchell Santner who is recovering from knee surgery.


"I'm grateful to have this opportunity to represent New Zealand in test cricket, which is quite exciting."

The Aucklander, who plays his cricket in summer for Hawke's Bay, is in a squad to play Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates in October.

Patel also is in the NZ A squad, which will tour the UAE ahead of the Black Caps, to play three T20s, three 50-over games and two first-class matches against Pakistan A.

Selectors Gavin Larsen and outgoing coach Mike Hesson, in his last assignment before stepping down from his role at the end of this month, yesterday announced the test, ODI, T20 and NZ A squads.

"Ajaz has deserved his inclusion on the sheer weight of his domestic first-class form over the past couple of summers," said Larsen in a press statement.

It was nice to have both wrist (Todd Astle and Ish Sodhi) and finger (Patel) spin options to cover the UAE conditions, he said.

Patel was named domestic men's player of the year last summer after helping the Heinrich Malan-coached Stags clinch the four-day Plunket Shield.

The You Travel Taradale CC premier club player has been the top first-class wicket taker over the past three seasons, claiming 48 scalps at 21.52 in his most recent campaign.

Ajaz Patel, celebrating Plunket Shield victory with CD teammates, was the domestic cricketer of the year. Photo/file
Ajaz Patel, celebrating Plunket Shield victory with CD teammates, was the domestic cricketer of the year. Photo/file

No doubt, it's a childhood dream come true for Patel.

"It's a passion I've had since I was young. I've always wanted to play at the highest level so to be able to actualise that dream and have it right in front of you now is kind of exciting."

He countered that sense of elation with a bout of nervousness.

"But, overall, it's an amazing opportunity and something that'll I'm really looking forward to."

Patel received the call from Larsen about 10.30am on Saturday.

"Initially he said I had been picked up for the New Zealand A squad as a debutant but then said even better news is that I've been picked for the test squad against Pakistan."

Replied Patel: "You're joking, right?"

Larsen informed him he wasn't before congratulating him.

"It was kind of an exciting time but, in saying that, I also was a little speechless because I didn't know how to react but, overall, it was great news and I was happy to receive it."

Patel hasn't played much cricket outside New Zealand and it will be his maiden tour to the UAE.

"It should be good due to the good offspin conditions there so I'm hoping that's true because it'll be nice to bowl on some wickets that offer a little bit to spinners."

For him, it's rewarding to see all the hard work, off and during season, coming to fruition.

"I know I've put a lot of time and effort into becoming a better cricketer and more skilled in what I do so it's a really nice feeling to kind of be in a position where you're rewarded for all the hard work."

Patel has had his share of setbacks but his Islamic faith keeps him in good flight and drift.

"I'm very religious. To a certain extent I believe whatever happens, happens for a reason so whatever is God's will will happen.

"For me, as long as I keep putting the work in and keep giving it everything to succeed, whatever happens from there on, I believe, is beyond my control. It's God's will so it never got to a point where I thought I should give up or think maybe that's never going to happen.

"I've always had the belief that with God's will I'll always have that opportunity."

Central Districts Stags teammates clap as left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel leads the team off the park last summer in their Plunket Shield-winning campaign. Photo/Photosport
Central Districts Stags teammates clap as left-arm spinner Ajaz Patel leads the team off the park last summer in their Plunket Shield-winning campaign. Photo/Photosport

Patel said the desire to help his teams, including domestic, Hawke's Bay senior men or premier club, was paramount.

He felt a lot of people had helped pave his path to this point and, going forward, many more would.

"I can't take all the credit. Yes, I'm the one that's been selected to play first-class cricket but there's been a lot of assistance from a lot of people that I'm grateful for."

Some of the biggest sacrifices come from those closest to him, including his parents, Shahnaz and Yunus, wife Nilofer and sisters Sanaa, 24, and Tanzeel, 19.

"Obviously your family has to put up with a lot of time away from you so it's rewarding for myself but it's also nice to see the joy and happiness that comes from it within the family as well."

That sense of familial affinity is reflected in Patel devoting time this winter to helping his father build their new family home.

Patel said the Black Caps selection of Ross Taylor (test/ODI/T20), Adam Milne (T20) and Seth Rance (T20) as well as NZ A players — Tom Bruce, Blair Tickner, George Worker and William Young — was a reflection of CD's reputation for producing adroit cricketers.

"It shows how successful we have been over the last couple of years and how strong we are as a squad. It bodes really well for CD that many players are having exposure to the next level. It shows they are taking the game in the right direction in being more successful," he said.

He was happy for all his teammates who had made the cut into the squads.

"I suppose it's now a matter of us going out there to really apply ourselves to succeed at that next level as well."

Whether New Zealand Cricket has Malan in its shortlist of Black Caps mentors remains to be seen but that chemistry can be an intoxicating one for a country seeking to claim its major maiden global crown in all three formats.

Patel sees his arrival as an interesting time because so much has transpired that he hasn't given that aspect much thought.

"I've been so focused on what I'm going to have to do, how I'm going to be able to succeed and what I'm going to have to develop and go with to the UAE."

He suspected it would be an equally interesting time for NZ Cricket because whoever it chose to assume the mantle of coach would herald a new chapter in the country's No 1 summer code.


T20: Kane Williamson (c), Mark Chapman, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Martin Guptill, Adam Milne, Colin Munro, Seth Rance, Tim Seifert, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor.
Two to be added from NZ A

ODI: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Martin Guptill, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Colin Munro, Henry Nicholls, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, BJ Watling.
Two to be added from NZA/BC T20 Squads

Test: Kane Williamson (c), Todd Astle, Tom Blundell, Trent Boult, Colin de Grandhomme, Matt Henry, Tom Latham, Henry Nicholls, Ajaz Patel, Jeet Raval, Ish Sodhi, Tim Southee, Ross Taylor, Neil Wagner, BJ Watling.

NZ A: Corey Anderson, Todd Astle (T20s, one-day, and first FC match), Tom Blundell, Tom Bruce, Mark Chapman (T20 only), Lockie Ferguson (T20 only), Kyle Jamieson, Scott Kuggeleijn, Ajaz Patel, Glenn Phillips (T20 and one-day), Jeet Raval (FC matches), Rachin Ravindra, Tim Seifert (T20 and second FC match), Blair Tickner, Logan van Beek (one-day and FC matches), George Worker, Will Young, Neil Wagner (second FC match), BJ Watling (One-day and first FC match).

Bold type denotes Central Districts players.