Jeetan Patel admits he feels “at home” in Birmingham now.
Warwickshire overseas player Patel feels at home in Birmingham – and at ease on the cricket field, as proved by his impressive work leading the team’s spin-bowling attack this season.
The New Zealander is settled and comfortable at Edgbaston and in county cricket. And that was far from the case back in 2009 when he came to Warwickshire for what turned out to be a very brief and unfulfilling first spell with the county.
He made a remarkable start by hitting his maiden – and still only – first-class century on his debut against Yorkshire at Edgbaston. But it was wicket-taking for which he was hired and in that department he struggled badly. His debut brought match figures of 47-2-190-1 and he took just six championship wickets at 66.50 before heading home with an injury.
And that was it for Patel and Warwickshire. Another overseas flop. Or so it seemed.
Far from it. The unhappy initial foray into English county cricket had emphasised his need to get back to the drawing board on his bowling. By the time he returned last year he was a different cricketer, one good enough to convince the Bears to sign him for the enture 2012 season.
“It was Andy Moles who sold the Bears to me,” Patel said. “He is a Warwickshire stalwart and told me all about Warwickshire and county cricket and after I arrived the first time I was dumbfounded.
“I didn’t know what to expect. I had heard a lot around the world about county cricket so I was in awe of all these guys who have played for the club. So I was very nervous and insular.
“I was also still developing as a cricketer. I was still quite young in terms of my expertise and was trying to find my feet in county cricket. Then I did my knee so I had to go home early so it didn’t really work out at all.
“But now I feel like I am at home here. I have learned Birmingham a lot better and I have learned the guys and the club a lot better. Coming back last year was a Godsend because it was the same club, same group of people as the first time but I was a little bit older and knew more.