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July 22, 2008
"I've got things that I need to learn about the game and I know that my next chance might not come straightaway," Pattinson told the Press Association after South Africa had wrapped up a ten-wicket victory. "But I'd like to think that I can be involved again further down the track. It's happened a few times in my career when I've been picked out of nowhere - and at the moment I feel that anything is possible."
Pattinson is right to be optimistic, because his recent rise has been a classic rags-to-riches tale. Born in Grimsby but raised in Melbourne, he worked as a roof-tiler and played grade cricket for Dandenong before being handed a belated chance to represent Victoria in the Pura Cup in January 2007. He took 4 for 87 on debut against South Australia, and was recommended to Nottinghamshire by his state and county team-mate, David Hussey, on the strength of his British passport. So far this season, he has taken 29 wickets at 20.86 in the Championship, and the rest is history.
Though he speaks with an Australian accent and lists AFL among his favourite sports, Pattinson claims to be a fair-dinkum Pommie. "I've only got an English passport," he said. "I'm a resident in Australia when I'm there so there was never a decision to make between playing for England or Australia."
The circumstances of Pattinson's call-up were bizarre. He earned his first England recognition earlier this month when he was named in a 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy in September, but when both James Anderson and Sidebottom reported stiff backs in training ahead of the Headingley Test, he was whisked up the M1 as cover, and thrust into the eleven ahead of the other reserve, Chris Tremlett, and a host of players with more plausible claims to a call-up, such as Matthew Hoggard, Steve Harmison and Durham's Graham Onions.
Michael Vaughan, at the toss, admitted that he knew next to nothing about the man who was about to take the new ball for England, other than the revelation that he had been intending to take his kids to Alton Towers on the day of his debut. "It was a bit tough walking into the dressing room for the first time, but the guys welcomed me with open arms," said Pattinson, whose figures of 2 for 95 in South Africa's first innings were no embarrassment.
"It's been a big week for me, and obviously I was nervous at first," he said. "But I relaxed as it wore on, and in the end it turned out okay. The first wicket was a bit lucky, because the replays showed that it might have just missed the stumps. But I got the ball to move a bit and had [Ashwell] Prince caught behind."
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