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Patel brings stellar Wellington career to an end

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Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Wellington Firebirds off-spinner Jeetan Patel has called time on a Wellington career spanning almost twenty years.

The 39-year-old will be given early release from his Wellington contract next month to begin his transition into coaching - continuing his spin bowling consultant role with England Cricket for their upcoming tours of South Africa and Sri Lanka.

"The opportunity to take up a role with England is one that doesn’t come around often and one I simply can’t turn down," said Patel.

‘’I’ve been hugely privileged to be able to represent Wellington for almost twenty years - this game has given me so many enjoyable moments and the Firebirds and the Cricket Wellington logo is something that is very important to me.

"I’m so fortunate to be able to come back and play year-on-year and see this group grow - this environment I’m leaving is in great shape to be able to help these guys do that.

"There’s so many people I want to thank who have sacrificed time to help me develop as a person and a cricketer - Cricket Wellington, Eastern Suburbs, New Zealand Cricket, the NZCPA, Warwickshire, but ultimately it’s my family - from ferrying me around trainings and matches when I was a youngster, to my wife and my kids now who keep driving me to grow and get better and contribute to the team."

Patel made his debut for Wellington in a Shell Trophy first-class match against Auckland at Eden Park Outer Oval in 2000 and has gone on to make 307 appearances for his hometown - the second most of all time, behind his good mate Luke Woodcock.

In that time, he racked up more than 500 wickets across all formats and is the fourth all-time leading wicket taker in first-class cricket for Wellington with 333, behind Mark Gillespie, Evan Gray and Ewen Chatfield.

He lifted the four-day State Championship in 2004, the Ford Trophy in 2014 and two T20 championships in 2015 and 2017.

Patel made his international debut for the BLACKCAPS in an ODI against Zimbabwe in 2005 and went on to make 78 international appearances across all three formats, taking 130 wickets and earning selection for the One-Day and T20 World Cups in 2007.

Firebirds head coach Glenn Pocknall said it was a bitter sweet moment but was fully supportive of Patel’s decision.

"First and foremost, we’re very happy and excited to hear of the opportunity that Jeets has been given," he said.

"He’s been a big part of the furniture of Cricket Wellington for twenty years so when you lose someone who has impacted the organisation like Jeets has, it does come with a bit of sadness.

"The biggest part he’ll leave behind is the standards that he’s set here as a professional and the way he has helped mentor his teammates through the way he plays his cricket.

"He’s going out on his terms which is something not every cricketer gets the chance to do; it’s a great opportunity for him to leave his mark on the team and the association in the best way possible."

Cricket Wellington CEO Cam Mitchell said the organisation was fully supportive of one of its longest servants.

"We are delighted that Jeetan has been offered such an exciting role as he begins his pathway into coaching," he said.

"The England coaching role presents a significant opportunity for Jeetan to start his transition to life after playing cricket and is something that we have no hesitation in supporting.

"While cricket is important, it is our people and their development that matters most and Jeets has more than earned the opportunity to venture on to his next challenge."

New Zealand Cricket chief executive David White saluted Patel’s contribution to Wellington and New Zealand cricket, and endorsed his move into coaching.

"Jeetan’s been a very important part of our domestic and international cricket environment for many years and we’re delighted to see his value and experience as a player being recognised.

"He’s a very proud New Zealand cricketer with a lot to offer and it’s no surprise to see him so highly regarded in this new role."

Patel still has one year remaining on his contract with Warwickshire in the UK which he will complete alongside his commitments with England.

Patel will be available for the Firebirds’ first two matches of the Dream11 Super Smash - his final appearance will come against the Central Stags at the Basin Reserve on Wednesday December 18.

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