Wednesday, December 2, 2020

Aussie quick pitches up for Ashes glory

Perhaps finally all the prayers and touched wood and crossed fingers have worked. It is more than a ..

By Sunday Herald Team , in Sports , at April 1, 2019

Perhaps finally all the prayers and touched wood and crossed fingers have worked. It is more than a day since James Pattinson bowled Victoria to the Sheffield Shield title, and to the forefront of Ashes conjecture, and still no bulletin has landed announcing with regret the detection of a hot spot somewhere in a rebellious body. For Pattinson, that might be a record.

Lest we get ahead of ourselves, let's go back. In consecutive Test matches late in 2011, so long ago that five of the Australian team of the time are retired, two young fast bowlers made startling debuts, conjuring up instant visions of the next Lindwall-Miller, Lillee-Thomson, McGrath-Gillespie, pick your era and pair. As it transpired, they did make a fine pair – of crocks. To this day, Pattinson and Pat Cummins haven't played a Test match together.

James Pattinson celebrates a wicket.

James Pattinson celebrates a wicket.Credit:AAP

Cummins idled for nearly six frustrating years, but finally healed and has played the last 19 Tests in a row, for a total of 20. The spell on him has been lifted, and he is now arguably Australia's most important player. Pattinson's curse took a different form. Every time he looked to have his bodily act together, it fell apart again. He has played 17 of a possible 85 Tests since debut, never more than three in a row, and none for than three years.

There was a macabre pattern: a high-calibre match or two, an immediate breakdown, months of rehabilitation, lengthening into years. As recently as January, he had to take early leave of Brisbane Heat in the BBL because of a side strain. The main man became a mirage again. His stars simply refused to align.


If he was someone else, he might have given up. If he was someone else, Australian cricket might have given up on him. But when he did play, Pattinson was a cut above. In those 17 Tests, he has taken 70 wickets at 26. In his scant total of 51 first-class games, he has taken 220 wickets at 22. Playing for Nottinghamshire two years ago, he took 32 at 12. He is a born wicket-taker. But later that year, he had back surgery and did not play again at first-class level until four months ago.

Even now, no one can be sure, about the affliction or the cure. It's not one injury, or one type, but fall under an ancient malediction: "back-related". Hot spots, stress fractures, side strains, they come and go. He came and went.

He looks unbreakable, but it's been a con, his body putting one over him. Is it that he once bowled too much, or since has bowled too little? The log books are full of numbers, but don't say. Pattinson has experimented with variations of his action, but not radical change, because there is nothing to say that his action is explicitly the problem. Now, it is pretty much as it was, and classic at that.

James Pattinson, on debut in 2011, dismises New Zealand's Brendon McCullum.

James Pattinson, on debut in 2011, dismises New Zealand's Brendon McCullum.Credit:AFP

When given the all-clear late last year, the Vics did not hesitate to bring him back for an umpteenth reboot. Of course, they didn't. Though they have an overflowing roster of fast bowlers with forward Ashes claims, Pattinson, when not in traction, is the best. He has pace, swing, control and – let's be honest Read More – Source

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