Why Indian superstar will bring a different dimension to Durham this season

Opening season at Durham County Cricket Club. Ryan Pringle
Opening season at Durham County Cricket Club. Ryan Pringle
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The quality that Axar Patel brings can be best seen in the company that he keeps.

Durham will start their season against the University on Friday, while Patel takes on Royal Challengers Bangalore in the IPL.

The Kings XI Punjab star will bowl to the likes of Brendon McCullum, Virat Kohli, AB de Villiers and Quinton de Kock. Given his outstanding record, he will have every chance of coming out on top.

Patel became Durham’s third overseas signing earlier this week and will join for the final six matches of the County Championship campaign.

It is a significant coup for a county eager to prove it is serious about returning to Division One, with South African prodigy Aiden Markram signed up for the opening section of the season.

For Ryan Pringle, Patel’s arrival is exciting even if it presents a challenge.

Pringle has established himself as Durham’s senior spinner in recent years but hopes that there will be room for both Patel and himself in the side.

Patel is not only a high-class bowler but a genuine batting talent, averaging just short of 50 in first-class cricket.

“In years gone by I would have seen it as a negative on my part, ‘we’ve signed a spinner so that’s my place in the side gone’.

“To take a positive outlook on it, he’ll bring so much experience and be someone that I can learn from. He won’t be here until later in the season so there are plenty of opportunities for me to stake my claim for a place in the side, whether it be as a batsman or as an all-rounder.

“At the back end of the season we might even play two spinners. It’s normally about bowling sides out with four seamers for us but maybe we’ll take a different approach.

“Him being left-arm, me right-arm, it might play into our hands to have that variety.

“I was looking at his batting stats in the first class game and they are unbelievable. That will be huge for us.

“There’s plenty happens before he arrives here, it is up to me to play some good cricket between now and then. There’s enough cricket for me to try and nail a spot down.”

Patel, too, will surely be a soundinng board for youngsters George Harding and Liam Trevaskis.

Pringle said: “It will be good for us as well because we’ve got two left-arm spinners, to have someone with international, IPL experience to chat to will be massive for them.

“I was lucky enough to go to India last year and chatting to those guys about spin bowling, it is so different to what you’re taught growing up here and it is great to get that perspective.”

Durham will rely on their traditional strengths in the early part of the season, and hope that Patel offers a different dimension on the home straight.

“He’ll go through some handwarmers,” deadpans Pringle.

Opposition batsman too, Durham hope.