Patel steps up to support grieving dad

JONATHAN MILLMOW
Last updated 05:00 07/02/2013

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Some things can't be rushed.

Jeetan Patel's mother died suddenly recently and he wants to be at home, not in the middle.

The England cricket team may be here but Patel worries not about his test selection prospects but his devastated dad.

Patel came to Wellington training at the Basin Reserve yesterday but he was only there in body.

Normally the loudest, he was the quietest.

He arrived after the others, hit some catches, had a light bowl and then returned to his new role.

His mother died suddenly of an aneurysm while holidaying in India last month.

Patel arrived home from the Black Caps' tour of South Africa, and, standing at the airport's bag carousel, he switched on his phone to a message that his mum was in bad shape.

Twenty-four hours later he and his dad headed to India but there was no happy ending.

Now Patel and his brother, Hitesh, have stepped in at the small Lotto shop his family runs in Miramar. But Hitesh has to return to England and Jeetan will do what it takes to support a father who has lived every ball he has bowled.

"I think we need to grieve properly rather than rush back to things and then it really hits us," Patel said yesterday morning at the nets.

"I want to play England, I've been looking forward to it for so long but other things take priority.

"I need to get things sorted at home. I need to know that dad will be all right. Who's to know, in a few days, he might say: I'm good to go." Patel has drawn up a comeback plan but, of course, it is fluid.

Skip Wellington's four-day game against Auckland, starting today at the Basin Reserve, then play the following two against Northern Districts and Otago and hopefully for the New Zealand XI against England in Queenstown starting on February 27.

The first test begins in Dunedin on March 6.

The show must go on for Wellington, though they will also be handicapped over the next four days by the absence of coach Jamie Siddons.

His wife, Kym, gave birth to their third child in Brisbane on Tuesday morning, with the earlier than expected arrival meaning the coach missed the event by a couple of hours.

Assistant coach Shane Deitz will take over the reins of a side also minus wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi for the opening day because of New Zealand A commitments.

Ronchi's absence means a debut for Karori's Tom Blundell, albeit for one day.

If Wellington bat first and bat well, then Blundell might be held back so Ronchi can have a hit on the second day.

It was an optional training yesterday but there was a full turnout apart from Jesse Ryder.

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Wellington captain Stephen Murdoch conceded the Plunket Shield was now out of their range but felt there was still plenty to play for.

Wellington are sixth and last (57 points) but only four points off third-placed Canterbury. There is also a belief the Firebirds can give the 50-over competition in March a real shake, so three top-three competition finishes would represent a reasonable season.

Wellington's quick bowlers have been leaking runs, so one of them - Scott Kuggeleijn, Ili Tugaga or Tipene Friday - is expected to carry the drinks.

Auckland have left Tim McIntosh and Reece Young at home.

In the other game today, Canterbury host Northern.

HOW THEY LINE UP

Wellington: Stephen Murdoch (captain), Josh Brodie, Michael Pollard, Michael Papps, Jesse Ryder, Luke Woodcock, Harry Boam, Tom Blundell, Mark Gillespie, Scott Kuggeleijn, Tipene Friday, Ili Tugaga. Auckland: Gareth Hopkins (captain), Michael Barry, Michael Guptill-Bunce, Craig Cachopa, Michael Bates, Colin de Grandhomme, Lockie Ferguson, Dusan Hakaraia, Anaru Kitchen, Bruce Martin, Chris Martin, Kyle Mills, Matt Quinn. 

- The Dominion Post

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