Kurtis Patterson is confident his Test century has not been forgotten as he jostles for a place among Australia's next-in-line batting options following a 2019-2020 summer that was badly disrupted by injury.
Patterson will begin his season for New South Wales on Monday, when they open their Sheffield Shield campaign against Western Australia in Adelaide. He is hoping to move on from the frustrations of last year when he was restricted to three Shield matches before the tournament was curtailed by Covid-19.
Having missed the cut for the 2019 Ashes, he was looking forward to restating his credentials last summer but picked up a quad injury before the Shield started. He then exacerbated it during his first four-day game against Tasmania.
He had to wait until after the BBL to return to red-ball cricket, but he was given reassurance that the selectors still considered him highly when he was picked for the Australia A side to face England Lions and he made an unbeaten 94 in the second innings of the pink-ball game at the MCG.
"I look back on that season last year and it put a few things in perspective, made me really appreciative of when you are healthy and able to get out there," Patterson said. "Getting picked to play against the Lions, it's always good fun to play against any English opposition because there's always a little bit of added pressure. So it was nice to score some runs. It was a positive to come out of what wasn't the most positive year for me."
With the likelihood that the Test squad to face India will need to be enlarged this season due to biosecure measures, there will be some spots for reserve batsmen even though the XI is well established. While Patterson's unbeaten 114 against Sri Lanka in Canberra - which gives him the statistical quirk of the highest ever Test average - was more than a year-and-half ago the value of that experience has not diminished.
"The thing that bodes well for me is that when I got my last Test opportunity I took it," Patterson said. "I know that's not forgotten. It was great to get that under my belt, get that first hundred - a monkey off the back. The main thing for me is what's in my control, that's to do my best for New South Wales and if Australian selection comes with that then fantastic."
"I've always understood that it's pretty simple: score as many runs as you can. The reality is that the Australian team has been pretty successful over the last couple of years and compared to previous years there's probably not as many openings as there has been. My focus, like it always is, is to try and score as many big hundreds and set up as many wins as I can for New South Wales and I know I'm playing my best when that's my sole focus."
Patterson will start the Sheffield Shield feeling very confident about his game after runs in New South Wales' pre-season matches before they made a hasty retreat for Adelaide following a return of Covid-19 cases in the state. He was hitting the ball so well he has actually tapered off his training ahead of the start of the competitive action.
"It's been nice to score runs in pre-season games, takes that little bit of weight off the shoulders, a little bit less pressure when you land in Adelaide with a few runs under your belt," he said. "I think the whole squad has been in a really good place and myself personally I've felt ready to go for nearly a month now. My challenge has been to back off a little, make sure I don't peak too early so haven't picked up the bat too much since we've been here but really looking forward to getting out there."
The New South Wales squad spent considerable time training next door as the opening two Shield matches unfolded at Karen Rolton Oval and Park 25 and Patterson took note of how the games unfolded.
"After the first two days on both grounds I said to a couple of the boys that this looks like they'll be some large scores and some big boring draws, but day three for both games was moving day," he said. "Think there's some different weather before our game...there might be a little more life in the wickets. The great thing in Adelaide is that as the game goes on there is usually is some spin. It's generally a fantastic product, as a it batter presents you with challenges throughout the game which is perfect."
New South Wales will be without Mitchell Starc for their opening match after he was given extra time away ahead of what will be a busy summer within hubs but expect to have him for their next two fixtures. Nathan Lyon is likely to be available for all three matches.