Twenty-six-year old Jeetan Patel is New Zealand’s new spinning hope. No relation of Dipak Patel, the other off-spinner who played for New Zealand in the 1980s and 1990s, Jeetan adapted well in his first international in India. His career-best three for 11 in only his 10th ODI, helped New Zealand to victory against South Africa on Monday.
Excerpts from an interview:
How did you pick up the game?
My father introduced me to cricket. Being an Indian himself, he was very passionate about the game. We started in the backyard in New Zealand and I went on to play for a club when I was five. I started as a seamer but took up spin when I was 15 because my college tam needed a spinner. I played for Wellington schools and state in the under 16s, u-17s and u-19s before going on to the New Zealand academy. Things began getting better from there on.
Did Dipak Patel have any impact on your career?
Visually, he had a lot of impact. When I started bowling, I was not quite sure how far I would go. I think the impulse was seeing Daniel (Vettori) make it early, when he was 19 — I was starting to play first class cricket and you think there is a possibility of playing for New Zealand. There are a lot of spinner you can take a lot from — Daniel, Saqlain, Harbhajan. Any input would be great. Things are going well at the moment and I am just building on what John Bracewell and Daniel are offering.
You turned the ball a great deal against South Africa…
The pitch helped, it was turning and because it was, it probably added a visual to the spectators that it probably turned a lot more than I thought.
How much does having an off-spinner as coach (in John Bracewell) help?
He is a confidence builder and sees things I wouldn’t otherwise see. A lot of things John and I do is the on-field stuff, going through mental processes, trying to think batsmen out. I think we realise that my technique is pretty sound at the moment. It is more about trying to learn more about the international game.
You came to India with an academy side in August 2001 for the Buchi Babu tournament. How much preparation did you do before this?
It was different in 2001, an interesting experience. This time, I just wanted to be confident in my action and have the belief to be able to compete at this level.
Are there areas you feel you’re still lacking in?
I just want to be a little more consistent. That is the biggest skill in Test cricket. You have to turn-up performances day in and day out.