Australia in South Africa 2013-14 January 20, 2014

Pattinson takes heart from Johnson, Harris comebacks


If there was one thing that cut through the frustration for James Pattinson as he sat at home watching his team-mates complete a 5-0 Ashes sweep, it was seeing fast bowlers like himself bounce back from injuries to bury England. A stress fracture of the back ruled Pattinson out of the series and he has now played only 12 of a possible 29 Tests since his debut, but Ryan Harris and Mitchell Johnson have endured similar lay-offs over the years.

"It's difficult when you want to be playing out there and you've had a taste of playing Test cricket and realising how good it is and how much you miss it when you're not there," Pattinson said on Monday. "But seeing the boys and how they went about it, you can learn a lot from that.

"Especially from two guys who have been through tough stuff with injuries, Mitch and Rhino, who is almost at his peak at 34. It holds me in good belief that I'm almost 10 or 12 years away from there. I know it's going to be a long road, a tough road, but I'm looking forward to it."

That road begins with Australia's tour of South Africa next month, after Pattinson, 23, was named in the 15-man squad for the three Tests. Pattinson and Jackson Bird were preferred to Nathan Coulter-Nile as the backups to the pace-bowling unit of Johnson, Harris and Peter Siddle, and the allrounder James Faulkner.

However, Pattinson will face a challenge to build up his workload to Test levels, given that he has not played a first-class match since the Lord's Test in July. Four BBL matches for the Melbourne Renegades and a return to the one-day international side in Sydney on Sunday have given Pattinson some sort of bowling practice, but he knows that plenty of work remains to return to his best.

"It's hard to find your straps straight away," he said. "I was quite lucky to get a few wickets with the Renegades early and helped my confidence a little bit. I bowled some good balls yesterday but there was a few bad balls in there, a few boundary balls. Once I get back playing continuous cricket and training, the more I'll bowl and the better I'll feel and the more consistent I'll get with my bowling."

Pattinson has been bowling up to 12 overs in the nets to build up his workload, and there is also the warm-up match in Potchefstroom ahead of the first Test in Centurion to get back into red-ball cricket. However, the presence of Harris, Johnson and Siddle in the attack means that his chances of a call-up will more arise through injury, but whatever the case he knows that the pitches in South Africa could make the job a little easier.

"I think the wickets over there help a little bit," he said. "They're as quick if not quicker over there in South Africa. It's a scary thought for the batsmen, knowing you've got Mitch, Rhino and Sidds in one team and then Steyn, Morkel and Philander in the other team.

"It's a tough challenge and the batsmen are going to have to be on their game and the same with the bowlers. There's big expectation on the bowlers to go over there and perform because there's been so much talk. I think our bowling attack is suited to that."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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  • Peter on January 22, 2014, 22:42 GMT

    @samlil I will be not only surprised but shocked if Marsh gets selected ahead of Doolan. Don't forget, Doolan was the standby batsman for the 5th test. Surely, we couldn't be so desperate to include Marsh against the Boks, surely not.

  • coln on January 22, 2014, 5:01 GMT

    Absolutely agree Clavers! Watson is the genuine article as an all-rounder. From the tour squad it looks like he's been slotted in at 6 now to replace Bailey, with Marsh at 3. Not a bad move, and we may see his best as a batsman still. He bowled very well on the last SA tour as well. This will be a good education for Pattinson - just what he needs. If he can learn as much as possible from Harris and Siddle, he really will be looking good in a few years time. Same for Bird.

  • Don on January 22, 2014, 4:36 GMT

    It would be madness to drop Watson for an extra bowler. With Kallis' retirement he is now the number one all-rounder in test cricket in the world. He averages just a touch over 30 (which is excellent considering that he is never given the new ball), is accurate and economical, but also moves the ball and takes wickets, including five-wicket hauls.

    When the rest of the bowling attack is fit he only needs to bowl ten overs a day, but if one of the specialist bowlers gets injured during the match he can step up and bowl 20.

    Then there is his batting: two centuries (almost three) in his last six test matches.

    Also, an all-pace attack would make it very difficult to keep the over rate up. This is not the 1980s when you were allowed to rotate Marshall, Holding and co and only bowl 70 overs in a day.

  • Graham on January 21, 2014, 22:38 GMT

    Last time we were in South Africa Watto took a 5 for. I don't understand the 5 bowler call. We need all the batting help we can get and Watson bowling is very much underated. He doesn't let the pressure off when he bowls.

  • Prasanna on January 21, 2014, 8:55 GMT

    5 bowlers may not be bad idea, given that Harris, Mitch, Pattinson all can bat. The only way for us to sustain the pressure on their batsmen is to not let up the intensity, by playing 4 fast-men with Lyon to tie it up when required. So fine by this.

  • Bryn on January 21, 2014, 6:12 GMT

    play 5 fast bowlers, harris, Johnson, siddle, pattinson and bird. Johnson is and allrounder and patto basically is too so they should play all of them and just hit them super hard with all that brilliant pace and knock SA over for under 100 every time. rogers, warner, haddin, Clarke, smith, Johnson, pattinson, harris, siddle, lyon, bird.

  • Marcio on January 21, 2014, 4:13 GMT

    bren19, "I think Patto has a long way to go. He is trying to be a line an length bowler."

    Do do you understand that he played one limited over game, NOT a test match? You do know the difference, right?

  • Bren on January 20, 2014, 23:33 GMT

    I think Patto has a long way to go. He is trying to be a line an length bowler but with his pace and build he needs to learn from Johnson. Become a bowler who can soften up a batsman, then he will be of immense value to the team.

  • Peter on January 20, 2014, 18:56 GMT

    @Meety. Also agree re: Pattinson. Too bad the Shield season is in hibernation as he does need the work, so for that alone, the one dayers have been better than T20. But that aside, he should be left for the red ball game, maybe T20's but definitely not one dayers. Yep, a game in Shield would be a huge benefit for him.

  • Scott on January 20, 2014, 17:40 GMT

    @meety & dunger.bob, I disagree. Although I agree he's a red ball bowler, we need to get him as much time as possible in the middle and he should've bowled in every ODI match this series. Frankly, he can't do any worse than any of our other bowlers have so far, who haven't been all that impressive to be fair - or NCN who hasn't ever impressed anyone! And it's not as if he's a complete liability. Sure, there probably are better ODI bowlers, but I'd rather have a Pattinson who's bowled 50 overs at int'l level turning out in SA if need be (which, with Harris around, is highly probable), then for him to have played 3 extra domestic T20 matches and possibly one shield match (if there's time for that before flying out to SA - without looking at the fixtures myself) We dragged him out of domestic games to be in the Aus side, the least we can do to aid his recovery is get him time on the square, regardless of whether he's an ODI bowler or not. Don't underestimate the gain of time spent playing

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