Ajaz Patel changed the story of cricket

Ten wickets and history

I always wanted to be a writer, I just never knew it would be a cricket writer. And along the way, a lot of great things have come off that. Like the time I shared a stretch hummer (the car, you pervert) with David Warner. And many chances to commentate have come too.

It never even occurred to me I could commentate until Test Match Sofa existed, and it wasn’t really a career path at all before Jim Maxwell asked if I wanted to try ABC. I’ve now commentated from the MCG, a World Cup final, and many other incredible moments.

Most of my commentary of late has either been as the co-commentator (Well, Macca, I think what happened there was actually) or as an on-air analyst (Goughie, here are the five occasions when you got smashed by left-handers in the third innings). But for New Zealand’s tour of India, they got me on to commentate again. To call the play. And that meant that through luck of scheduling I was on air when Ajaz Patel took ten wickets, and I got to call it for talkSPORT.

This means so much to me because I am a historian. I had never even seen a ten wicket innings haul before. Anil Kumble’s was just a highlights package to me. Jim Laker I learnt about in books.

Of recent times I also looked at just how incredibly rare it has been, when an entire episode of Aaron Sorkin’s show Sports Night focused in a fictitious haul (the episode is called ‘Ten Wickets’) by my favourite fake cricketer Chauncy St. John I included it in my video on Sorkin cricket references.

But if you want it a bit easier to find, here is the bit when I look at the rareness.

So to be on air when that happened is incredible.

Now think about what Ajaz Patel is feeling. A career in the shadows, thrown the ball when in Asia, back in his original home town, a poor first Test, and now immortality.

In 2348 Tests what he’s done occurred twice. I mean, this is incredible, there were two things that had happened very rarely in the history of cricket, one person to make 400 runs, and two guys had taken ten wickets in an innings. And we just added a third. And think of the other names, Lara, Laker and Kumble.

Ajaz Patel will always be remembered for this., But he’s not destined to be a legend of cricket. Barely bowled at home, a 33-year-old in his eleventh Tests, and he just jumped the queue to chisel himself onto a very exclusive Cricket Mount Rushmore, I mean this is extraordinary.

Think of the other spinners in this game. R Ashwin took 4/8.  He looked like he could have taken more than ten wickets if you’d had me and you bowling at the other end.  Axar Patel is averaging 11 in Test cricket right now, he’s a good spell in the second innings from going under his arch-nemesis - Surrey and England’s George Lohmann - for the lowest bowling average ever.

Yet here you have the humble and barely mentioned Ajaz Patel, who didn’t bowl well in the first Test when the pitch was in his favour. A bowler who just doesn’t land the ball where he wants every ball. But when he gets it right, on a pitch that likes him, it’s a boom.

This was a random confluence of events that was as weird as it was wonderful. Especially to happen to someone like Ajaz Patel, who through his career has struggled for this chance and afterwards seemed so humble in the famous of his own obvious awesomeness.

So at Wankhede, the home pitch of the city he was born in, he bowled enough bombs to take ten wickets in an innings. This will stay with those of us who watched it for a very long time. And we are not even the person who did it. Ajaz Patel just changed his life, became a great trivia question and made an impact on the sport he loves.

'Took ten wickets in an innings’ is now tattooed onto the end of his name. Laker, Kumble and Patel. The story of cricket just changed, and so did his life.