• Matthew Whiley

Samit Patel On His New Contract

When presented with the basic facts of a situation in which a spin-bowling all-rounder was dismissed just shy of a century at Old Trafford, the thoughts of many cricket fans may turn to a notable blonde-haired Australian hooking Simon Jones to Ashley Giles in the 2005 Ashes series.

For Nottinghamshire supporters, however, their memories will more than likely lead them to a set of entirely different events five years later, on a day which will forever be etched into the club’s history.

On that day in Manchester, a 25-year-old by the name of Samit Patel displayed maturity beyond his years to calmly steer the grand old Green and Golds to their sixth County Championship title.

Now, twelve years on, that young man is a seasoned veteran, with four additional trophies to his name, and a club legend who has no intention of calling time on his career just yet.

For Samit Patel, playing for Nottinghamshire County Cricket Club is a labour of love, and his recent contract extension now means that it is one which will go on to extend beyond two decades.

A relationship of such interminable length has to be built on solid foundations throughout a player’s formative years, and while the club may have provided the framework, Patel’s character and sheer ability have proved to be the cement, binding him to Trent Bridge from the very start.

“Ever since I was playing under-11s, at the age of nine, from then on, it was it was all cricket for me,” Patel recalls. “Obviously, as an Indian, cricket is always in the blood, and representing the county has been fantastic in all age groups.

“I was very driven in the sense that I knew exactly what I wanted to do, and I'd know exactly how I'd try and get to the top.”

Lofty goals have never been something which Patel has shied away from, with that belief and confidence making perpetual appearances to serve him well throughout his long professional career.

Just as he puts the ball on a dinner plate outside off stump, or makes contact with the middle of his bat when letting sixes fly, it has become habitual for this stalwart of the Nottinghamshire dressing room to regularly hit his targets.

If the building metaphors are continued, with Patel and the club each bringing their own element to the construction of this relationship, the builders themselves have to be the all-rounder’s earliest teammates in that group, who imparted valuable words of wisdom.

“I had a strong dressing room and a lot of senior players in the likes of [Stephen] Fleming, [Chris] Read, [Paul] Franks, Andre Adams, Jason Gallian… the list could go on!” he smiles.

“It was always important to know exactly how you wanted to play your cricket and how to go about it. As a young kid especially, you did learn a lot of the likes of Gallian and [Darren] Bicknell, which went along with what I was picking up from my own experiences.”

With that early backing of his peers, Patel has gone on to enjoy some of the most intoxicating highs the game can offer an individual, with none meaning more to him than those he has experienced while wearing the green and gold.

He chuckles softly as attention once again turns to his season-defining innings at Old Trafford in 2010, where he came together with Australian batter Adam Voges in a decisive partnership.

Patel made 96 from 91 balls, and the duo added 153 for the fifth wicket in a stand that proved crucial for Notts to put up 400, gaining the fifth batting bonus point they needed to ultimately lift the County Championship.

“I'd had a horrific year,” he says, with more forthright honesty. “But the fact was that Mick [Newell] always stood by me, and didn't drop me, while obviously knowing what I could always bring.

“For me to go in under some pressure in that final game, needing to try and perform, to then be part of that innings with Adam Voges to just get us over the line… that was definitely a standout moment. It was a pretty difficult pitch and the way Voges played was outstanding.”

It was perhaps ironic that, while Nottinghamshire rode the crest of that title-winning wave, the only reason the side so desperately needed to reach 400 was because there was no hope of a result after swathes of the game were washed out.

Commonly, it is accepted that cricket is played in the mind as much as it is on the field, and while it can offer those soaring highs, there is also the potential for crushing lows too.

Those are the periods of the game no one wishes to think about too deeply, save for discussing them at the time someone is actively going through one.

Yet, Patel has always been the exception, and as he discusses how he has coped with the more fallow times of his career, his brash honesty and individual character continue to shine through.

“If I was to write a book, I would make the title I Did It My Way, because I don't think that in cricket you can always have it your way, but you've got to learn how to do it your way,” he explains.

“You've got to be able to be pretty selfish, and very stubborn in the way you want to go about your cricket. I've not been mean by any stretch, and if I would have played like a statesman, then maybe I would have scored more runs and took more wickets, but I wouldn't be the match winner.

“I think – well, I know - I've delivered because I played it in my own way.”


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