Jeetan Patel has joined up with New Zealand’s squad ahead of the ICC Champions Trophy, ready for the pressures of a major tournament – and determined to enjoy them.
The career of the Warwickshire spinner, who turned 37 earlier this month, just goes from strength to strength.
His sustained excellence for the Bears in recent years is well-documented. Last season he was the Most Valuable Player in county cricket for the second time in three years. Last September he helped Warwickshire lifted the Royal London 50-over Cup at Lord’s. Earlier this year he was pivotal to Wellington Firebirds’ triumph in the MacDonald Super Smash T20 competition in New Zealand.
All that excelling across the formats earned Patel a belated recall to international cricket during the winter. So, after playing for the Bears in their Specsavers County Championship match against Somerset at Taunton, which finished on Monday, he headed off to join the Black Caps ahead of their ICC Champions Trophy campaign – which just happens to start at his beloved Edgbaston, against Australia on June 1.
Playing against Australia for any Kiwi is special, no matter what format. So for us to play cricket against them, and for me to be hopefully a part of that, at what is now my second home, Edgbaston, would be really special.Jeetan Patel
“It is an exciting period of my life,” Patel said. “Busy, but exciting.
“It is going to be refreshing to be with a different group within this mid-season period and just because you are playing in a different team at a higher level doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it.
“I certainly will be enjoying myself just being in the squad and if I get to play, then great, and if we win some games then even better. It’s a tournament of really high pressure so it will be exciting to be involved in that.”
Patel is fiercely proud to represent his country anytime, anywhere, but admits that to do so at Edgbaston, his adopted home in England, would be “really special.”
“Playing against Australia for any Kiwi is special, no matter what format,” he said. “So for us to play cricket against them, and for me to be hopefully a part of that, at what is now my second home, Edgbaston, would be really special.
“It would be an unusual situation and I am very excited by it and there are also other games in the tournament that I could play in as well if we come back to Edgbaston.
“That first game against the Aussies is going to be really important for us. We’re going to have to set a benchmark. But playing for my country at Edgbaston, which has been close to my heart for a long time now, would be pretty amazing.
“I know I’m going to have some home support there. There are going to be a lot of Kiwis that come up from London, and no doubt plenty of Aussies too, and it’s going to be a big game for both sides. In such a tight tournament, if you win or lose a game, you could be in or out of the tournament so it’s a case of throwing yourself into every moment because it could be crucial.”
A limited number of tickets remain available for New Zealand’s ICC Champions Trophy game against Australia on Friday 2 June.