No-ball issues put the skids on Pattinson's rhythm
James Pattinson celebrated six wickets during West Indies' first innings at the MCG, but you'll only see four on the scorecard. Twice during the opening session of the third day, Pattinson dismissed Carlos Brathwaite, only to have the umpire ask for a review of the front foot. On both occasions, Pattinson was shown to have delivered a no-ball. Brathwaite went from not really out on 13, to not really out on 50, to really out on 59.
It was all part of a frustrating session for the Australians as Brathwaite and Darren Bravo almost batted through until lunch without loss. Brathwaite was eventually caught and bowled by Nathan Lyon just before the break. That and some more lower-order fight pushed West Indies along to 271 and discouraged Steven Smith from enforcing the follow-on. Instead a potential three-day Test, the game was set to last four days or perhaps even five.
That means plenty of work still ahead for Pattinson and the rest of the bowlers. While he was pleased to finish with 4 for 72 in a Boxing Day Test, he knows he created more work for himself. In the 48th over of the innings, Brathwaite was bowled trying an ugly cross-bat slog, and in the 66th over he hooked a short ball straight into the hands of fine leg. Both were called retrospectively as no-balls.
"I've always been pushing the line, ever since I've been playing cricket," Pattinson said. "It's momentum and stepping over the line, it's obviously something I have to work on because it cost us a bit of time today and a few runs. I have to work on it and try to improve that."
They were two of four no-balls that will show on Pattinson's analysis at the end of the innings, but the lack of on-field calls for the wicket deliveries suggests that others might have slipped by unnoticed. Asked whether umpire Chris Gaffaney had warned him he was close to overstepping, Pattinson said no, but he took responsibility for the no-balls himself.
"It was more after I bowled the no-balls, he wasn't telling me before that," Pattinson said. "I know I'm always up there, it's quite hard. I've got to try and get into a rhythm where I can stay behind the line and not push it but umpires do try and help you out a fair bit."
So far in this series, Pattinson has collected nine wickets at 18.55, making him Australia's leading wicket taker so far, which is a pleasing result given this series marks his return after a long injury lay-off. After initially rebuilding his action to be much more side-on, Pattinson has reverted to an action that is something of a compromise between side and front, and it seems to be working.
"I still feel like I'm not 100% yet," Pattinson said. "Obviously when you do bowl no-balls it is in the back of your mind a little bit. So I'm still not running in as hard as I would like to be, because I'm sort of a bit wary of that front foot.
"I've just got to try to get a stage where I'm running in full steam and not worrying about overstepping, but apart from that I'm pretty happy with the way the ball is coming out. I feel like I'm getting better and better each time I bowl. If that's the worst it's going to get - bowling a couple of no-balls, I'll take that."
Australia remain in a powerful position to push for victory with two days to play, boasting a lead of 459 runs with seven wickets in hand in their second innings, but West Indies at least showed some resistance on day three. Pattinson said he had been impressed by the way West Indies both batted and bowled after their underwhelming displays of the first five days of the series.
"Darren Bravo didn't give us much at all," Pattinson said. "He was pretty solid. He made us work really hard for his wicket. The same as Carlos Brathwaite when he came out. We thought he was probably going to tee them up a bit more than he did. But he looked pretty solid and fought pretty hard.
"When they came out they bowled pretty well in tough circumstances when they're 300 behind and could easily have just dished up a few half-volleys for us. Our boys batted well. It was a pretty good day's cricket."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale