All-rounder provides Cook further options
England’s upcoming Test series in India is likely to set the tone of Alastair Cook’s captaincy and is vitally important for regaining team confidence after a tumultuous summer.
Cook’s side are outsiders in the Betfair Cricket Betting for the upcoming tour and he knows he needs solid performances from his tried-and-tested key members, such as James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Ian Bell, if he is going to take a series victory on the subcontinent.
Yet there is one name that could also make a real difference to the squad, and it isn’t necessarily Kevin Pietersen.
All-rounder Samit Patel proved his worth in England’s warm-up match with India A recently, scoring a ton as his side limped to a three-day draw. Patel’s magnificent 104 from sixth man was Pietersen-esque and throws a real spanner in Cook’s works as to who will bat for England this winter.
Patel was impervious with the bat, resuming on 82 to share a 169 stand with Cook before the opener fell. His 65-run partnership with next-man Matt Prior was also a joy to behold as Patel handled the Mumbai wicket with ease.
In his latest Michael Vaughan previews column, the former England skipper highlighted that what could make the 27-year-old so valuable to Cook’s plans is his availability as a spinner.
England will tour on the trickiest wickets in the world this winter and Patel’s left-arm deliveries could cause a problem in the Indian middle order. If he is included in Cook’s side he will ideally bowl very little – leaving spinning duties to Graeme Swann. However, a four-match test series is not something to take for granted and Cook will hope Patel and/or Pietersen can provide respite for his main bowling attack when required.
Patel, like Pietersen, has proven he can turn the ball and although it will be difficult to force his way into Cook’s middle order, he has the potential to cause a stir when England begin their tour this month.