Tim Ambrose has hailed spin-bowler Jeetan Patel as a “fantastic weapon” for Warwickshire to have in their bowling attack as they prepare to challenge hard for the championship title in the second half of the season.
The Bears returned to the top of the First Division table this week after Patel’s five-wicket haul against Sussex last Sunday enabled them to collect maximum bonus points even though the match was ruined by rain.
They have now moved down to the south-west and Taunton when they are facing potential title-rivals Somerset with confidence high after a stunning final day against Sussex.
Many a game in such circumstances, still in the first innings going into the last day, has drfited drearily to a draw.
But Warwickshire saw an opportunity to harvest enough points to climb above Nottinghamshire and they duly claimed full batting points, thanks largely to Rikki Clarke’s third century of the season, and then all the bowling spoils by skittling the visitors thanks mainly to Patel’s third haul of five or more wickets this term.
The Kiwi spinner has proved a potent member of Warwickshire’s bowling armoury with, assuming that one day it stops raining, the more spin-friendly conditions still to come.
Wicketkeeper Ambrose, himself back to top form, has the best view of Patel’s work. And he is loving working with the Kiwi whose bowling has developed so far from that which he unfurled during his brief first stay with the Bears in 2009.
“Jeets has had a few spells with us before so he is no stranger,” Ambrose said. “But last year he came back to us and seemed like a ten times better bowler. He has really found something in his game and is a fantastic weapon for us.
“He’s great for the team and, as a keeper, I just love working with him. Some spinners communicate a lot more than others with the keeper and he enjoys a lot of feedback so it’s nice to be able to be involved in that way.
“It’s a case of just mentioning plans and ideas. He likes to check to see if I have got an idea or two like whether he could maybe go round the wicket or try a change of pace or change the field.
“It’s good to work with a guy who is open like that. Some spinners just like to do their thing and that’s fine, everyone has their own way. But Jeets enjoys feedback and it’s good relationship.”
Ambrose and Patel are currently plotting how to undermine Somerset’s strong batting line-up at Taunton. a ground of which Warwickshire have very happy recent memoreis. They would certainly not mind replicating their last championship visit which brought a stunning innings-and-382-run win in the first game of last season.
Jim Troughton’s first game as captain, it was the Bears’ biggest ever championship win and the biggest by any county since 1921 as Warwickshire piled up 642 (Varun Chopra 210) then dismissed the home side for 210 (Woakes six for 85) and, to widespread incredulity, 50.
Woakes added three for 16, Andy Miller took two for 16, and Rikki Clarke five for ten to expedite an astounding collapse by one of the strongest batting units in the country at what is traditionally one of the best batting venues.
If that was a historic triumph, almost as satisfying, in a different way, for Troughton’s side was their most recent meeting with the Somerset in four-day cricket - the opening game of this season at Edgbaston.
Chasing 259 on the final day, they looked doomed to defeat at 207 for eight but Troughton dug while Patel smashed an unbeaten 43 from 36 balls to carry his team to a thrilling, two-wicket win.
The significance of that unikely alliance and the momentum it triggered on a breezy afternoon back in April cannot be over-stated.