Warwickshire legend Jeetan Patel believes a "fantastic occasion" is in prospect when England take on New Zealand at his beloved Edgbaston in June.
The Black Caps, who currently sit top of the world Test rankings, will visit Birmingham from June 10-14 for the second Test of a two-match series.
It is a mouth-watering prospect with Joe Root’s England side returning to their favourite home ground of Edgbaston to face the world Number Ones.
There will also be plenty of Bears input. The England squad now in India after emphatically winning their series in Sri Lanka includes Chris Woakes, Dom Sibley and Olly Stone while Patel is a vital member of the backroom team as spin-bowling coach.
Patel’s role with England has still to be firmed up beyond the current tour but, the spinners having bowled England to victory in Sri Lanka, he is putting together a strong claim for the long job longer-term.
‘Jeets’ would certainly love to be involved in the Test match at the ground which his skills graced as a player for a decade.
“The Test at Edgbaston will be a fantastic occasion and a fantastic cricket match,” Patel said.
“You don’t get to be Number One in the world unless you are the best side, and New Zealand are definitely there on merit.Jeetan Patel
“They have some world-class individuals – Kane Williamson, Trent Boult, Ross Taylor, Tim Southee – but their real strength is the collective. They have all that talent, but it’s the coming together that has taken them to Number One.
“Some people might be surprised that New Zealand are the top Test nation, but I know it’s something they have been working towards for five or six years. They might just be a little bit surprised that it has come so soon.
“They play an aggressive, testing form of cricket and it will be a really tough game for England. Having said that, England are strong too, and New Zealand have recently been more successful in home series than away, so England will also be confident. It will be a great game.”
And for Patel, who played 78 times across the formats for New Zealand, would there be any conflicting loyalties?
“Absolutely not,” said the man who helped the Bears lift every domestic trophy as a player. “I am a proud New Zealander and loved playing for New Zealand but work is work isn’t it?
“I am loving being part of the England back-room team and helping to build the very strong group that we have at the moment and, if that remains the case, my allegiances will be 100 per cent with England, no question about it.”
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