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It’s all in the family for England’s indoor team

Brother and sister captains the teams with mother as coach and father as team doctor

Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News
(From left) Rakesh, Neeta, Niki and Anish Patel at the Insportz Club in Dubai.
Gulf News

Dubai: It’s all in the family for England team. Men’s captain Anish Patel and women’s team captain Niki Patel are brothers and sisters while the women’s team coach Neeta Patel is their mother and the team doctor, Rakesh Patel, is their father.

While Anish and Niki battle it out in the middle, their parents from outside the nets, provide all guidance and assistance. They talk cricket all the time and wear the England team jersey.

“We are a cricket family,” said Dr Rakesh, who as team doctor keeps a close watch on all the players ensuring that they are all free of injuries and fit too. “My wife’s first cousin is New Zealand Test star and off-spinner Dipak Patel. For us, to have both children captaining their country is an amazing feeling. It is a proud moment as parents,” added Rakesh.

The Patel family lives near Birmingham and all drive together to the indoor cricket facility located ten minutes away from Edgbaston Cricket Ground. It’s cricket talk all the way.

Niki keeps an eye on how his brother is performing when the men’s team is in action while Anish too does the same during women’s matches. “My brother manages the indoor sports centre in Birmingham while I work as a medical representative,” said Niki, who has top-scored against South Africa and UAE in this World Cup.

It was following his sister’s passion for cricket that Anish too started playing indoor cricket. “I started playing indoor after watching my sister playing for the Under-19 and I got involved as well, and as my dad is involved because he is the team doctor, and that is sort of natural, since both my sister and I are on the team, and my mother has always been an outdoor coach, and so it was a natural process for us all to be involved in the game,” said Anish

“Indoor cricket is taking off well in England. We need to encourage more people to play it. I feel the level of talent has increased immensely,” said Rakesh, who would like more parents to guide their children to indoor cricket.

When Gulf News asked whether there is scope for indoor cricketers to become professionals, Niki said: “I think there is a long way to go especially in the women’s game for us to be able to turn professional, but I think give it a few more years and see how it goes, there is talk of participation in Commonwealth Games.”

Niki has played in five indoor World Cups so far and is delighted that overall women’s indoor cricket standard is on the rise. “Every year the game is getting better. Even Big Bash players are in the Australian side, and the future looks promising.”

Niki’s mother Neeta has been the coach of the England team in four World Cups and carries a rich experience of two decades as coach of outdoor women’s team too. “I have always coached outdoor cricket, and I have been coaching for 20 years, and the way the indoor game has developed in England, they have always needed coaches, so I started that way, and now this will be my fourth World Cup as coach of the 21 and under team.”