Pattinson's action evolving - McDermott
James Pattinson's mentor Craig McDermott has moved to clarify assumptions about his pupil's bowling action, including the contention that the 25-year-old abandoned two years of adjustments in order to claim five wickets in the second innings of the Hobart Test against the West Indies.
While Pattinson did struggle for rhythm in the first innings and found himself delivering the ball from an arm position that reduced his chances of gaining any movement through the air or off the wicket, McDermott said there was still plenty of evidence of the adjustments they had made together during his 5 for 27 on the third and final day.
Changes to Pattinson's action had been devised to ease pressure on his back, which has been the subject of multiple stress fractures over his five years around the Australian team, and were as much about foot position as arm and wrist. McDermott noted that Pattinson's back foot is now much more side on at the point of delivery and thus in sync with his waist, back and shoulders. The adjustments to his arm path made for a much more rhythmic performance on day three.
"In a transition from an old action to a new action, sometimes in competition your body will want to go back a little bit to the way it was," McDermott told ESPNcricinfo. "That happened in the second innings a little bit, but it was more about Patto jumping in a straight line through the crease and going towards the target with his body and getting his arm path down a little bit below the perpendicular and his wrist behind the ball all the time.
"The bottom half is still different. Sometimes his back foot gets a bit more front on down the wicket, but generally he's travelling pretty well. We tried to get his back foot as far towards 90 degrees as we possibly could to start with, knowing that when you get back into competition mode it's always going to creep back the other way. He's anywhere between 30 and 45 degrees at any one stage so it's not too bad."
Pattinson had stated that he hoped to find a middle ground between his old ways and new ones, with the added benefit of now having an older, more mature body to cope. However, McDermott counselled that given a history of multiple stress injuries, Pattinson needed to be aware of the risks inherent in his former methods - the pair will continue their work together when McDermott travels to Melbourne ahead of the rest of the team on Monday.
"Every bowler is different, but Patto's had a number of stress fractures and even at the age of 25 he's probably had more than someone like Mitchell Starc who's had one," McDermott said. "He's got to be careful, old stress fractures sometimes don't heal 100%, a bit like with Pat Cummins at the moment, after about a month his were still not healing that well, so he's put in a brace just to make sure that does restrict his movement.
"Patto's still got to be careful even at his age, just because of the amount of stress fractures he has had in the past that he may not get a new one but you can always open an old one, which may not have healed as strong as some of the other bone matter has. I don't think it's right to compare Patto's body with Mitchell Johnson's body or with Mitchell Starc's body, everybody's differently made up."
Nevertheless, McDermott agreed that once a player is in the Test team, the last thing they should be doing is thinking too intricately about their bowling action. For this reason, he kept his advice simple and to the point between innings, much as the captain Steven Smith also did.
"There were a couple of things I spoke to Patto about the night after the first innings," McDermott said. "One was 'don't think too much about it, just really bowl the ball', and the other thing was 'try to get your arm path down a little bit, because if it's up too high it is very hard to get your wrist behind the ball'. They were the only two things I spoke to him about the night before.
"His first wicket in the second innings if you look at the slo-mo, it's very good as far as the seam position and all of that sort of stuff goes. There's still some variation in that with him, but everything's coming along pretty well. There's still a lot of room for improvement, as we've discussed since then. But some wickets will give him confidence."
In the absence of Starc, who underwent his ankle surgery on Tuesday night, McDermott said that Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile were both well equipped to be Australia's impact bowlers over the next four Tests against the West Indies and New Zealand, with Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle providing the steady counterpoint.
"I think Patto's one of those and Nathan Coulter-Nile's got the ability to do that as well," he said. "Josh is really starting to hone his skills with his lengths, Sidds does what Sidds does, nothing changing there. Certainly leading into the next two Test matches and New Zealand, those guys stand us in pretty good stead."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig