Jeetan Patel looks set to be rehired as England’s spin coach following the visa problem that denied the men’s national team his services during the summer.
The 40-year-old New Zealander was part of the setup last winter but was then prevented from resuming his work with Dom Bess, Jack Leach and co this season because of his official status as an overseas player at Warwickshire.
But now Patel, whose 11-year spell at Edgbaston concluded with his retirement at the end of their T20 Blast campaign, is understood to have been approached about the upcoming away series against South Africa, Sri Lanka and India, despite Graeme Swann recently declaring his interest in the job.
Ashley Giles, the director of England cricket, confirmed this week that he and Chris Silverwood, the head coach, still intend to fill longstanding coaching vacancies in the spin and seam departments despite cuts being made to the budgets. An appointment will certainly offer England’s spinners a more permanent sounding board after a summer in which, bar a short spell with Richard Dawson, the Gloucester head coach and former off-spinner, they lacked specialist support in the bubble.
Bess played all six Tests, picking up just eight wickets in what were predominantly seaming conditions, while Leach had to wait until his return to Somerset for a first competitive bowl in nearly a year following illness last winter. Both missed out on Test central contracts this week but will be key men come the proposed tours to Sri Lanka and India in the new year. The hope also is that Adil Rashid and Moeen Ali can be lured back to Test cricket; rehiring Patel, with whom both have previously enjoyed working, may help to encourage this.
Neither is a given, however. Rashid’s ability to up his workloads from white-ball cricket after a shoulder problem will still need to be tested out with some four-day cricket when England hold a training camp in the United Arab Emirates before Christmas.
Moeen, despite 181 Test wickets, has struggled for confidence with the ball since one poor first Ashes Test in 2019 cost him his red-ball contract – a decision that, after 12 months of personal success before this, was questionable.
Jos Buttler, who has kept to all four, insists England’s spin options are still healthy and, speaking from Dubai where he is playing for Rajasthan Royals, pointed to the role three of them played in the 3-0 win in Sri Lanka in 2018 as evidence. Buttler said: “You look back to that tour of Sri Lanka, with Moeen, Leachy and Adil, we had variety in the spin bowlers and a lot of success.
“There wasn’t much chance for Dom Bess this summer just gone with seaming conditions but I thought he looked a much-improved bowler from the previous winter in South Africa, and he bowled well there. The time he spent with Jeetan Patel, and the work with Richard Dawson, has added a few things to his game, which I think is really exciting for him.
“Jack Leach, it was quite a frustrating summer for him. He put in a hell of a lot of hard work in that environment and I know he used it as best he could. He felt like he was bowling really well and just wanted to get into some games.
“Moeen is someone who we all hope can just come back to being that bowler we know. He’s excellent when you give him responsibility. And if someone like Adil was open to Test cricket again as well, we know how talented he is. So there’s certainly talent in the England ranks. They just need more exposure.”