A left arm orthodox batting All-Rounder, Patel spent 7 years as a semi-pro in England following a stint in the United States Under 19 team.
"My game owes a lot to a man by the name of Jeremy Snape"
Nisarg Patel made his debut for the US Senior Men’s team in the final and deciding match of the 2017 Auty Cup against Canada. He bowled a match turning, and ultimately series winning spell of 3/35, as the US defended 178 and won the Auty Cup for the first time in 26 years. Being able to perform in a high stakes match, in his debut game no less, owes a lot to a man by the name of Jeremy Snape.
Snape was the captain of the Leicestershire County side in England in 2007. Even though Patel only played the first of his 7 seasons as a pro in England at Leicestershire, the influence that Snape would have on his development as a cricketer moving forward was to be profound.
Just the previous season Patel had played for the United States at the U19 World Cup in Sri Lanka. He had the best economy rate of all the US bowlers and took 2/26 against South Africa and 2/37 against Australia. What many followers of US cricket may not know, is that he was a medium paced swing and seam bowler at that stage of his career, often opening the bowling for the US U19 side.
Skip forward a year to Patel’s first season in England. Toward the end of trainings he would often bowl a bit of left arm orthodox spin in the nets, something that hadn’t gone unnoticed by Jeremy Snape. At this point it is also important to note the influence on Patel of the club captain Chris Prowting, who showed faith in Nisarg with both bat and ball. Something that enabled him to get a chance in the team in the first place. One weekend early in the season Patel opened the bowling in a game as usual with his 7 or 8 overs of medium pace. He bowled well enough, but was unable to get a breakthrough on this particular occasion. After the first drinks break, captain Snape again tossed him the ball, but this time asked him to bowl left arm spin like he had been in the nets. Although slightly bemused, Patel did what he skipper had asked of him. Six overs and five wickets later the skippers intuitive move had become a full blown stroke of genius.
Patel questioned Snape after the match as to why he thought he was able to succeed with a style of bowling that he had never before used in a match. Snape suggested that playing with a clear mind is the key to being able to perform well in cricket, and that his intuition was telling him that asking Patel to bowl left arm orthodox would take all the pressure off Patel and effectively clear his mind. It is a conversation that stuck with Patel from that moment on.
Over the next year or two Patel slowly made the transition from Medium Pace swing bowler to full time left arm orthodox bowler, and the bags of wickets kept coming. He spent 3 years playing for Chelmsford Cricket Club, where he was given plenty of opportunities, and was able to get a fair measure of success. In one of his final seasons in England playing in the Essex Premier League he was runner up to current New Zealand Leg Break bowler Todd Astle as top wicket taker. Now it was time for Patel to return to the US full time and push his case for National selection.
Upon his return he topped the MVP charts at the 2014 US Nationals, taking wickets and scoring runs in the process, effectively forcing the selectors hand when it came to picking a squad for the ICC Americas Division 1 tournament in Indianapolis the following year. Unfortunately for Patel his recently secured British Citizenship made him a passenger during that campaign, as he was ruled ineligible under the ICC rules. Rather than getting frustrated Patel continued to ply his trade at club level and various tournaments around the country.
When his chance finally came again on a warm day at Toronto’s King City ground on the 14th September 2017, his ability to clear his mind and play with freedom helped contribute to a famous US victory. On behalf of US cricket fans everywhere, thank you Jeremy Snape.