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Lincs coach Fell chases Patel on the eve of Championship opener

By Lincolnshire Echo  |  Posted: June 08, 2012

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Lincolnshire are attempting to sign Akhil Patel – brother of England star Samit – in time to face Northumberland at Sleaford on Sunday.

Director of cricket Mark Fell is trying bolster the batting line-up after losing experienced batsmen Martyn Dobson and Vikram Atri to work commitments and youngster Dan Freeman, who has exams.

With his options stretched, Fell is hoping to add Patel (pictured), 21, to the side for the three-day clash at London Road.

"I'm not sure if it will happen, but we're trying to sign Akhil Patel," revealed Fell.

"He's a batsman who bowls leg spin. He's a young lad so he ticks that box too.

"He's been at Notts and he'll add strength to the side."

Boston batsman Jonny Cheer and Cleethorpes off-spinner Harry Clewitt have been named in the 12-man squad.

Cheer is no stranger to the Lincs squad having been involved last year, but teenager Clewitt could make his Championship debut after impressing in one-day action earlier this season.

"Harry played in the one-dayers and did extremely well," added Fell, who expects to bring more young players through this season.

"We're getting to the stage where we may have to start again with this side.

"We've been very lucky to keep this side together for the last seven years, but it's getting more and more difficult for some of the older lads to be available.

"As much as you want them to play, you have to draw a line somewhere.

"But I still think we'll be competitive this season. We've still got a strong side."

Meanwhile, a flying start is critical to Lincs' title hopes, according to skipper Paul Cook.

Cook wants his side to dominate the Eastern Division from the off this year and avoid the inconsistency which robbed them of last season's title.

"For these three-dayers, we've got to maintain our consistency and start well," declared the Bracebridge Heath batsman.

"It's no good chasing the pack. We want to be up there setting our own standards and showing people what we're capable of.

"That only stems from being consistent with the bat, ball and in the field.

"The division will be competitive. There's Norfolk and Suffolk while Cumberland have been strong in the last couple of years.

"Cambridgeshire won it last year and, in my mind, they were one of the worst teams, but they played well at the right times.

"We've got a tricky first game against Northumberland. They could be anything from amazing to poor."

Cook and Fell believe Lincs threw the title away last year, losing matches after surrendering winning positions.

"I was so gutted at the end of last year because I knew that championship was ours to lose, and we lost it," recalled Cook.

Lincs (from): Birch, Cook (captain), Burford (wicketkeeper), Cheer, Dowman, Bansal, Patel, Andrews, Shepherd, Houston, Clewitt, Darke.

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