Even as the Indians were piling on the runs and agony at Seddon Park, Jeetan Patel sent the Otago Volts packing on a first-day pitch at the Basin Reserve with returns of 5 for 65.
‘Big Jeet’ as he is known in these parts, was released from the Test team to play for the Wellington Firebirds and national coach Andy Moles has already said that this performance is just what “they asked of their players” and indicated that Jeetan would “come back strong” in the team's thinking for the next game.
Even before this five-for, one man has been crying hoarse for Jeetan's inclusion in the playing eleven. Dipak Patel, the offie famous for opening the bowling in the 1992 World Cup, has run an academy in Auckland for a decade now, and feels for a fellow offie.
“Jeet's a very fine bowler. I believe he can be one of the top spinners in world cricket,” said Dipak. “But you can only get to the top if you get a chance. Unfortunately he's not getting the opportunities.
“Spinners need to be bowling a lot of overs and playing game after game. He's in a very difficult situation. We know that he's a quality bowler, we know that he's got the results, it's a case of whether he gets the opportunities.”
Dipak is understandably worried about losing quality cricketers because they don't get enough of a chance.
“This is a beautiful country, there's plenty to do, beaches, cars, adventure sport, you name it,” said Dipak.
“It's a question of whether you can keep youngsters interested in the game.”
Dipak talks with passion about Jeetan's case, but does not think it's an isolated one. “There are a lot of Indian-origin people and migrants from India playing cricket and coming through at the age of 14-15,” he said.
“It's a question of whether they stay in the game long enough, and get the support from their families to go all the way. I'm sure that in the next ten years you will see a lot of Indians coming through.”
Dipak is the first to admit he was no Prasanna or Murali. Yet, he was an iconic figure in New Zealand's most successful World Cup campaign and an inspiration to Asian-origin aspirants.
Another Indian-origin offie with the same surname is desperate to make an impact.
Will the call come for 'Big Jeet' in this series?