Samit Patel’s cricket statistics are being weighed against his vital statistics even more frequently of late. Is he fit enough for five-day cricket?
It’s an interesting question, but we’re actually more interested in how the other England players cope. Even if Patel plays, we can’t see a debutant playing the decisive hand in this series. You’d bet on a more familiar player having the greatest impact, but will any of the England players be able to excel in the heat and humidity?
The series seems likely to be about players battling their own limitations as much as the opposition and it’s a hell of a shame that there will only be two Tests. The cumulative effect of day upon day of hot, sweaty misery really starts to tell in a longer series and it’s intriguing to see which players are left standing towards the end.
It’s almost like a cycling stage race. Chris Boardman was an exceptional cyclist, but faded in longer races like the Tour de France where you have to race day after day. Some of England’s cricketers are going to fall by the wayside in the next week or so and that’s part of the game.
The longest format tests resolve, adaptability and resilience. Sometimes it’s about playing as well as you can when you feel like shit. Feats delivered in that context win our admiration more than a quick bout of fairweather boundary-hitting.