An instant crowd favourite at the recently concluded 3rd edition of the Pakistan Super League (PSL), Samit Patel earned praise for his outstanding bowling performances for the title winners, Islamabad United, as well as his decision to visit Pakistan to play the final of the tournament.
In a recent interview, Samit Patel spoke about his experience of playing in the PSL and the hospitality he received in Pakistan, his impressions of Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali and Zafar Gohar, thoughts on the ball-tampering controversy and his aims and targets at Nottinghamshire for the upcoming season.
By Saj Sadiq (18th April, 2018)
PakPassion.net: You've recently returned from playing in the Pakistan Super League, how was the experience of playing in that tournament?
Samit Patel: I actually went to this tournament last year when I was signed by Peshawar Zalmi but I didn't play any matches, so this was actually my first proper opportunity in the Pakistan Super League. To be around some of the best players in the world was great. At Islamabad United we had the likes of Andre Russell, Misbah-ul-Haq and Samuel Badree, guys who I felt I could learn from. In the backroom staff we had Waqar Younis and Saeed Ajmal, two great names to feed off really.
PakPassion.net: Are tournaments such as the Pakistan Super League a good opportunity for even the experienced players like yourself to work on technical aspects of your game?
Samit Patel: Yes definitely. I got some good technical tips from Saeed Ajmal which have resulted in some changes to my bowling action. He brought in some ideas from a technical and mental aspect which we worked on. The couple of technical changes that Saeed suggested have had a positive effect. I was very happy with Saeed and the work he did with me during the Pakistan Super League.
PakPassion.net: How do you feel about playing in Pakistan again, especially with suggestions that half of the Pakistan Super League will be played in Pakistan next time around?
Samit Patel: It was all good. The way we got treated this time around was fantastic. We went there with high security, but when we landed in Karachi it was perfectly fine. I can't fault any of the security while I was in Pakistan.
PakPassion.net: What are your thoughts on some of the overseas players such as your Nottinghamshire team mate Alex Hales not travelling to Pakistan for the later stages of the tournament?
Samit Patel: It's individual preference whether they wanted to go to Pakistan or not. It was my decision to go there and thankfully it was the right decision. To go to Pakistan for the first time and take cricket back there was a big thing from my perspective and also for the local guys in my team.
PakPassion.net: I guess winning a tournament also makes it a more enjoyable experience?
Samit Patel: Absolutely. We did not start off that great actually and we were a bit hit and miss, but we got some momentum when we beat Lahore Qalandars in the Super Over and we didn't look back after that. We found a way of winning and everyone performed their role in the team very well, regardless of whatever combination we had and whoever came into the team they would do a great job. For example Zafar Gohar came in and he took 3 wickets and that showed the strength in depth we had. In our squad we had Samuel Badree who is one of the best spinners in the Twenty20 format but he never played a single game which showed the strength of the squad and the competition for places. It was great to be part of the Islamabad team and it was great to get a consistent run in the team and especially in a role that I did not expect to do. Normally I bowl in the middle overs and that would be it, but I found a way to get in the team by opening the bowling.
PakPassion.net: You mention your role opening the bowling in the Pakistan Super League. You seemed to just take that challenge in your stride?
Samit Patel: It was a tough challenge and the way I looked at it was that my role was to get top order early wickets and that was mainly key batsmen from the opposition line-up. I got the better of some pretty good batsmen in the Pakistan Super League, including getting Kamran Akmal out three times. It's important as a team to get good players out early in any format of cricket and from an individual perspective it was very satisfying also, especially in an unfamiliar role.
PakPassion.net: Some of the younger players at Islamabad really flourished in the Pakistan Super League didn't they?
Samit Patel: We had lots of talent in the squad. Faheem Ashraf, Hussain Talat, Asif Ali and Zafar Gohar were all very impressive. In that middle order Hussain Talat and Asif Ali stood out for me and both played fearless cricket and they just went after the bowling in every match. They played to their strengths which is always beneficial. After one match Asif was out sweeping and we had a team chat where we looked at his strengths as a batsman. I suggested that he play straight as that was his main scoring area and only play the sweep shot as a last resort. He worked out his game pretty well after that team meeting. Hussain Talat is more of a touch player and both are great talents for Pakistan.
PakPassion.net: What was it like having Misbah-ul-Haq around in the dressing room?
Samit Patel: He's a very calm individual. He knew exactly what he was doing. Obviously he captained Pakistan for so long and he knows what captaincy and leadership is exactly all about. He knew all the decisions that he needed to make on and off the field in terms of selection and what type of wicket it was and what we needed to do in each match. Some games I only bowled a couple of overs, other games I bowled 4 overs and we had that versatility under the leadership of Misbah. He has been a great captain over the years and I got to see at close quarters why that has been the case.
PakPassion.net: 60 international appearances spread out over a number of years, that must be frustrating for you?
Samit Patel: Yes absolutely it should be more than that especially in the white ball format. Looking at my record I think 60 matches for England is not enough to be honest. I was very disappointed at the end of last year. To be selected as the Most Valuable Player and to win the Players Player of the Year Award and then not to be selected for England was pretty disappointing from that aspect.
PakPassion.net: If you are performing consistently in domestic cricket and as you say win awards, you must wonder why you aren't being picked for England?
Samit Patel: I'm just being overlooked by selectors. Maybe they think I am the third or fourth option rather than the first or second choice available to them. Now I think that could change after England's poor winter, who knows.
PakPassion.net: International cricket doesn't appear to be the young man's game it once was. At the age of 33, you must still have high hopes of playing for England in future?
Samit Patel: Definitely. I don't play County Cricket not to play for England. I think every County cricketer should aspire to play for his country and not just go through the motions and the run of the mill. Brad Hogg is still around playing Twenty20 cricket and has played for Australia. What I do as a batting all-rounder, I don't see why I can't still play international cricket.
PakPassion.net: Do you see yourself following in the footsteps of those cricketers who have decided to give up on red ball cricket?
Samit Patel: No probably not. I don't think I will be doing that. It's an individual choice that some of the guys have made. They have obviously thought about their path and how they want to get through their career. I think both Adil Rashid and Alex Hales have said that they are not writing-off red ball cricket altogether and it appears that they have made that decision for a year or two.
PakPassion.net: Disappointed to miss out on a stint at the Indian Premier League?
Samit Patel: Yes it's disappointing but it's not the end of the world as there are other Twenty20 competitions around the world that I have played in and hope to play in future. Also there are now T10 tournaments starting to crop up so that is another opportunity for cricketers like myself to explore.
PakPassion.net: There are some experts who worry about the future of Test cricket. What do you think needs to be done to ensure Test cricket remains popular with fans around the world?
Samit Patel: I don't think crowds are dying out in Test cricket. If you look around the world in Australia, South Africa and England and even India the crowds are there. It's the other Test playing nations that are not getting the attendances. Perhaps that is due to the fact that some of their best players are not playing Test cricket, an example of that would be Chris Gayle and Dwayne Bravo for Cricket West Indies, so the fans are not necessarily going to go to the matches if some of these players are not taking part. I don't think it's so much of a problem in England as you always get good crowds for Test matches. I think Test cricket is the pinnacle of the sport and number one and that will never change.
PakPassion.net: What do you make of the recent ball-tampering saga involving Steve Smith, David Warner and Cameron Bancroft?
Samit Patel: It's something that the players involved will regret for the rest of their careers. Obviously Cricket Australia has handled it how they saw best and taken the action they felt that was needed. I think we should now let it rest and move on from the incident. They were wrong in what they did, but we all make mistakes in life.
PakPassion.net: What are your aims and targets for Nottinghamshire in the upcoming County season?
Samit Patel: We always go into a County season with high hopes. We are a little bit bare on the squad front and I think we need to look to the replacements to make an impact such as Ross Taylor and Chris Nash. We are going to have to pull together and that includes me, Riki Wessels and Steven Mullaney and do the bulk of the scoring. I think we are lucky that we will have Jake Ball back and we'll have Stuart Broad available for the first three or four games of the season. If we can get off to a flier then anything is possible. I think the white ball formats will take care of themselves but we won't take anything for granted. We are a good white ball unit but we have to improve on all aspects of our game as it's a new season and people will be looking to gun us down and we therefore need to be on our A game really to get anywhere near last year.
PakPassion.net: As a cricketer who has achieved a lot in his career, what's left as future aspirations and personal aims?
Samit Patel: I want to stay fit, produce the goods on a consistent basis and if I can do what I did last year, this time in Division 1 maybe I might get noticed a little more than I did last season and maybe get the shirt with the 3 lions on it once again.