Patel blow for Bears
Warwickshire look certain to be without Jeetan Patel for their season-opening fixture against Somerset at Taunton.
Last Updated: 10/04/09 11:45am
Warwickshire look set to be without overseas signing Jeetan Patel for the start of the new LV County Championship season due to visa issues.
The New Zealand off-spinner is currently waiting in Wellington as he hopes to get all the paperwork sorted out so he can fly to England.
The regulations for obtaining a visa have been tightened and, in a further setback, the Home Office is closed over Easter.
Ashley Giles, Warwickshire's director of cricket, is virtually resigned to being without Patel for the fixture against Somerset, which gets underway on Wednesday.
"It is a tricky one. I guess it is partly of our own making because we asked for stronger conditions regarding work permits and guys coming in to play cricket," the former England spinner said.
"It might hinder us in the first game or two. We are not sure when he will be available.
"We are going to try and push it as hard as we can and get him here as soon as possible. It is almost impossible to get it all done for the first game with everything closed over Easter."
Patel, who has Indian parents but was brought up in New Zealand, has played in seven Tests and 38 one-day internationals for the Black Caps.
If the 28-year-old is not available at Taunton, Warwickshire will be hoping Ant Botha recovers from an elbow injury in time to play.
"We are still hoping Botha will be fit for the first game. It has been a bit of a topsy turvy couple of weeks for him not knowing where we are going," Giles added.
"But we are going to try this new line of treatment and, if it works, then he should be okay."
Meanwhile, Bears captain Ian Westwood is hopeful of being fit for action by the first week of May having suffered a cracked wrist on the county's pre-season trip to South Africa.
Giles said: "We hope Ian should be getting close to being available by the first week of May. It is a massive blow. He has had his problems with injuries. He is frustrated.
"As a captain, he has got a very good cricket knowledge. We have worked well together. As soon as possible, I want him back."