Samit Patel, man of the match in the NatWest T20 Blast finalwhen Nottinghamshire Outlaws beat Birmingham Bears by 22 runs, has not heard from the England selectors since the tour of South Africa in 2015-16. But his batting has improved to the point where he can master most situations, he is only 32 and at the least – as the selectors dig deep to find Test batsmen – worth a phone call.
“I’d be disappointed if they didn’t watch that,” Patel said after hitting an unbeaten 64 off 42 balls in a stand of 132 balls with Brendan Taylor that was a record for T20 finals day. “They haven’t spoken to me since the South Africa trip I went on and didn’t play. Putting on that (England) shirt means everything to me.”
“I have thought about picking up the phone but it won’t go down well,” Patel added. “The only way I can get back in is putting in performances like I did today.” In the semi-final and final combined, Patel hit 99 runs at vital stages of both games, bowled his eight overs of left-arm spin tidily enough, and brought off two run-outs with direct hits – Hampshire’s Michael Carberry in the semi, and the brilliant new left-handed opener Ed Pollock in the final – which, Patel admitted, gave him the most satisfaction.
Above all, though, Patel now thrives under pressure. As his captain Dan Christian, who thumped 24 off eight balls after Patel’s stand with Taylor to take Notts to the impregnable total of 190, said about a possible England recall for Patel: “I think he’s definitely good enough, yeah. He just loves big games, big occasions.”
One problem is that when Patel first did well for England under the captaincy of Kevin Pietersen, who referred to him as “my little mate”, Patel hid his insecurity – as a player of poor background, when there was no other south Asian in the England side – under a veneer that was widely seen as arrogance. But this has matured into proper self-confidence.
“Every time I’ve put on an England shirt I don’t think I’ve let them down,” Patel added with a certain justification. But neither did he begin to fulfil his potential in six Tests, when he averaged 16 with the bat and took seven costly wickets. The look which Patel gave at the mention of Liam Dawson’s name was not exactly reverential, but Dawson could never be accused of failing to maximise his potential.
Peter Moores, the Notts coach who had two terms in charge of England, says the key to Patel’s improvement this season – in which he has scored two championship double-centuries beside his white-ball feats – is that he now practises more. “Samit has found a new level whereby he has become very consistent,” Moores said.