Jun 3 2010 By Jon Batham
MIDDLESEX’s newest contracted player hopes he’s blazed a trail for other Asian cricketers in the county.
Ravi Patel has enjoyed a pretty impressive last couple of weeks, earning his first full-time contract with the Panthers and making an eye-catching first class debut in the victory over Oxford University at the Parks last week.
It marks the latest step on the left-arm spinner’s journey from colts cricket through the Middlesex Academy – one of the few British-born Asians to rise to this level of the game in England.
It’s a journey which required tough decisions, such as the one to leave Harrow St Mary’s, where he enjoyed success as a junior amongst mainly Asian peers, to find a higher level of cricket at Eastcote in the Middlesex Premier League.
And the Kingsbury-based bowler insists others need to make similar tough choices if the dearth of Asian cricketers at county level is to be addressed.
He said: "If you look at the lower leagues in Middlesex they are full of Asian players, whereas in the Middlesex County Premier there are two or three at the most.
"It was hard for me to leave Harrow St Mary where I’d grown up, knew everyone and been successful, but I knew I needed to get out of my comfort zone and go to a Premier League club to progress in my cricket.
"And in the same way Asian players at community clubs need to be prepared to move over as early as possible and put themselves in a position to be noticed."
The 19-year-old, due to head to university at Loughborough in the autumn, certainly made an impact at the Parks, taking five wickets in the match as well as a few useful runs at the tail end of the Middlesex first innings.
A naturally big spinner of the ball, Patel is more than aware he needs more than turn if he’s to put the pressure on the likes of Tom Smith and Kabir Toor and force his way into the first team squad.
He added: "I need greater accuracy to make it to the next level. County batsmen are so good at using the crease, if you’re off line you’ll get punished.
"I’ve also got to develop subtle variations. It’s no good just turning the ball away from the right handers. I need a slider – a flatter ball which goes straight on – and changes of pace otherwise I’ll be too predictable."
Follow us on Facebook for the latest Middlesex news.