Jeetan Patel has confirmed his desire to become England’s spin-bowling coach on a full-time basis.
Patel has worked extensively with England over the past 18 months as a consultant coach, spending time with the squad during the tours of New Zealand and South Africa in the 2019-20 winter and in Sri Lanka and India over the past six weeks.
England tried to use him again during their Test series against Pakistan last summer, but were thwarted by a visa issue, since Patel was in the UK as a player (in his final season at Warwickshire) rather than as a coach. As a result, England’s spinners were left to work with Warwickshire’s seam-bowling coach Graeme Welch during that series, having been helped by Gloucestershire head coach Richard Dawson during West Indies’ tour.
The ECB advertised for three vacant roles – pace-bowling coach, spin-bowling coach and batting coach – in December, with interviews being held in recent weeks after applications closed last month. Speaking in a press conference on Friday, Patel confirmed he had applied for the full-time role, and appears to be the favourite for the job.
“The ECB are still in the process of trying to hire three roles,” Patel said. “They’re still in the background for them. There’s a lot going on so I’m not sure when that process will end, but right now it’s on a consultancy basis and I love it. I’ve been very lucky to see this team win Test series, win games of cricket out of nowhere in some cases, to watch Joe Root score the runs he has, to see the young spinners come through and take five-fors, and also to see the group in some wonderful Test matches in South Africa through to Sri Lanka recently.
“I’ve really enjoyed my time here and I’d love to continue, but the reality is that I don’t make those decisions. I’ll put my best foot forward and make sure that I keep growing these guys as much as I can. I’d love it to be full-time.”
While his international record was modest, Patel is a highly respected figure within English cricket as an authority on spin bowling. He took 473 first-class wickets for Warwickshire between 2009 and 2019 at an average of 26.11, making him county cricket’s most prolific spinner, and said that he was keen to help young English spinners and make the domestic game more conducive to their development.
“Spin is really important around the world,” he said. “I haven’t officially been given any role yet but I’m always looking at how we can improve the game. I’ve spent a lot of time in England and my heart is there as well, so I’d love to see the spin game in England develop, whether that’s through pitches, smartness of spinners themselves, captaincy, or the way we play spin.”
As well as helping England’s three main spinners – Moeen Ali, Dom Bess and Jack Leach – on this tour, Patel has been tasked with assisting their part-time options – Dan Lawrence and Joe Root – and managing the development of Mason Crane, Matt Parkinson and Amar Virdi, who have travelled as reserves along with the rest of the squad.
“It’s been a lot of work,” Patel said. “It’s not often any team carries eight spinners on tour, but they’ve all been fantastic. Virds is definitely making big improvements, and he comes off the back of being able to spin the ball big, and we want to use that skill. These opportunities for him are fantastic.
“Parkinson for me has gone to the next level with his bowling. There were question marks around the pace he delivers the white ball and whether it would be effective at international level, and I think he’s shown that [he can succeed] with a red ball. With Mason, we know that he can spin the ball and that he’s an aggressive spinner. It’s about helping him eliminate those bad deliveries that legspinners can bowl.
“For the reserve guys, it’s about keeping them keen and keeping them coming back for more. There’s a lot of work to do, and a lot of guys who want to face spin. They aren’t robots, and they can’t just rock up every day, so there are times when we have to rest them, [but] this tour has been fantastic so far.”
Matt Roller is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets at @mroller98
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