New Zealand in Australia 2011-12 December 6, 2011

Pattinson debut exposes coaching disparity


James Pattinson's astonishing debut has exposed the often vast disparity between state and national coaching philosophies in Australia, one of the central problems identified by the Argus review.

As a young pace bowler with Victoria, Pattinson was taught to bowl short of a length, in line with the Bushrangers' long successful methods for winning domestic matches, particularly on the MCG's drop-in pitches.

However the national team has recognised his natural swing and speed are better suited to fuller bowling and, under the guidance of the bowling coach Craig McDermott, Pattinson has been groomed to make the adjustment.

"Billy's taken over this year as the bowling coach and he's just said to me the length that I bowl for Victoria, that back of a length, doesn't work in Test cricket, it is hard to get wickets with that," Pattinson told the television panel show Inside Cricket.

"You get more chance of getting wickets if you pitch the ball up there and get a chance to get some caught behind the wicket [dismissals]. He's been pushing me to get a lot fuller with my lengths and all that work I've done over in Sri Lanka and South Africa has really proved pretty good for me."

Pattinson's progression from state cricket to the international game was smoothed by his presence as a reserve paceman on numerous Australian overseas tours, where he worked assiduously with McDermott to change his methods, with startling results against New Zealand in Brisbane. As he settles further into the role of head coach, Mickey Arthur is charged with ensuring greater consistency in coaching standards and philosophies between the states and the national team.

"Of course, absolutely," Arthur said when asked about the need for greater alignment between state and national coaching. "There are a couple of things we'll be looking at implementing, I think we need to be a little bit harder and a little more ruthless on the basics, but for James that was phenomenal and it was a spell that was right up there among the best I've seen.

"I thought he was quick, he was aggressive and he hit the right areas. We had a chat before the start of play that morning on what we believed were the right areas and he executed that fantastically well. The key for us really is to increase our depth, if we can get our depth in all departments nice and strong, and we've spoken about giving quality opportunities, we're going to place ourselves in a really good position down the line."

Another area highlighted by the Argus review was that fielding and fitness in state programs was not always up to a high enough standard. One passage of the report stated: "Some COE and National Coaching staff (as well as some Australian players) feel that several State programs are inadequate for preparing players for international cricket, for example, in relation to players' physical conditioning and fielding."

The fielding coach Steve Rixon has returned to the team for the Hobart Test, and will speak with Arthur about how to prolong his role beyond the current short-term arrangement. Arthur said the team's fielding in Brisbane was one area requiring considerable improvement.

"We certainly dropped too many catches, there's no two ways about that," Arthur said. "I do put it down to nerves, it was the first Test match of the home summer, a lot of guys on debut, and there was a lot of excitement around the group, and I'll put it down to that. But we've got to sharpen it up a huge amount because catches are crucial. We'll work really hard on it and aim to put in a really quality fielding performance in Hobart."

One of the lest natural fielders in the Australian XI, Usman Khawaja, fielded at short leg for large swathes of the match, and Arthur said he was intent on becoming a specialist in the position.

"We'll be doing a lot of work with Usman in that position definitely," Arthur said. "Technically he's a little bit on his heels, he probably needs to get a bit more on the balls of his feet a little more, but he can catch and we'll keep upping his work-rate in that position and challenging him there. That's where he is going to field, so we need to be getting the best out of him. He's very receptive to that as well."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • david on December 7, 2011, 13:05 GMT

    well lets be fair the aussies had to do something after the last ashes. putting the same old bowlers after that, something had to change. if england did anything it made you think of new blood was the way to go. perhaps now its keeping the new blood on the pitch. im not joking now. dpk

  • Roo on December 7, 2011, 6:05 GMT

    @RandyOZ... Yes agree... Also Adelaide Oval will be introducing AFL permanently so they see the need to make 'instant' pitches that can be dropped in after the afl season is over & be removed back again...

  • Roo on December 7, 2011, 5:42 GMT

    @davidpk... Get your facts rights first... Pattinson travels on an Australian passport (read cricinfo profile)... He is probably able to gain dual citizenship if for some unseen reason he needed it... You have to apply for that - it isn't given automatically... He doesn't have a UK passport... Until then, keep your comments to reality if you can...

  • Randolph on December 7, 2011, 1:28 GMT

    @youngkeepersdad, it won't be exactly the same at Adelaide Oval. The MCG gets their pitches from outside melbourne, they get trucked in. AO is getting is pitches from the nearby "Adelaide Oval 2" so that means the soil composition and type of grass should be more or less the same.

  • Peterincanada on December 7, 2011, 1:25 GMT

    I agree that this is a stupid argument. The length you bowl depends on many things, for example the height of the bowler, the condition of the pitch, the country you are bowling in. the age of the ball, the strengths and the weaknesses of the batsman etc etc etc. The best bowlers can vary their length according to whatever they face. Pattinson being a swing bowler should in the main bowl a full length but it certainly isn't carved in stone.

  • Andrew on December 7, 2011, 0:20 GMT

    @ dsig3 - I think it depends on circumstance & conditions. Pattinson bowls faster than ooh ah, & swings it more than him. @JimDavis - ouch! @Antriksh Saal - OMG! That is a classic "YOU THINK IT IS EASY TO RUN THROUGH INDIAN BATTING? Even England did not do that" - umm England did! @ landl47 - I agree - fully fit bowling units in 2013 Ashes will be not much fun for batsmen! @ the_blue_android - I think the Indian line up will be vulnerable early, but they aren't greats for nothing. If given half a chance, they will most likely cash in. It will be interesting viewing! India's best chance to win a series in Oz, but it COULD go horribly wrong! @Davidpk - I don't think we Ozzys got the joke, I hate it when you have to explain yourself - LOL!!!! == == == I think the time Pattinson spent as 12th man was very good for him. I think he is a bloke that needs to pitch it up, however I do believe more importantly bowlers will need to adapt to different conditions & hence different lengths.

  • Philip on December 7, 2011, 0:03 GMT

    continued: The only issue with Vic pace-bowling is the drop-in pitch at the MCG and now they want one in Adelaide. Why?

  • Philip on December 6, 2011, 23:58 GMT

    The point I thought I made clear earlier is that if the Vics have it wrong with bowling too short how come a NSW debutant can get away with bowling even shorter to someone who is known to not play full-pitch deliveries? Isn't a NSW bowler a product of an accountable state system too? Plus a length to suit a home pitch? And yes, you should pitch it up in test cricket and at Brisbane - perhaps more so than elsewhere at state level. But did Pattinson really need to be told that? If he did he's not half as clever as I thought he was and I doubt that's the case. I really don't think Victoria has a problem producing pacemen. Their problem is batting. How many Vic born batsmen have there been playing in my lifetime (nearly 50 years) who've made a 1000 test runs? Lawry, Stackpole, Redpath, Yallop, Jones and I can't think of anyone else off the top of my head. That's where Vic cricket needs assistance. Yes, Vic pacemen do pitch too short at times but so do lots from elsewhere, without comment.

  • Simon on December 6, 2011, 22:56 GMT

    I think Pattinson ran through some weak batting. He bowled some great deliveries as well. If he can do that to India, England ,South Africa then we have a good bowler. NZ were woeful in that test apart from Vettori and Brownlee.

  • Hamish on December 6, 2011, 22:43 GMT

    youngkeepersdad the point is that Pattinson having spent time around the team over the last year has had time to work on it. Starc hasn't so how he performed really has very little to do with the Australian team's coaches. Now whether it's always a good thing to pitch the ball up or whether sometimes it's better to be a little shorter is a separate question.

    and Cummin, Pattinson and all the young players need to produce consistantly for a while before anybody can be sure what they can do. Mitch Johnson was looking pretty good after the 2 series against RSA in 2009 after all...his opening spell in RSA when he broke Smith's hand for the second time was hugely impressive.

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