If Australia are to challenge England at the Ashes this year, they will have to make sure that their bowling line-up does better than just picking up the required twenty wickets. The likes of Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle will have to set up victories for Australia as the batting looks particularly weak at the moment.
The bowling line-up is inexperienced, but they have the requisite skill and technique to deliver the goods and they have the additional element of novelty. The pressure on the pace battery will be mounted by the fact that Australia lack in the spin department with Graeme Swann being miles ahead of Nathan Lyon in terms of quality.
The tallest figure in the Australian side will be James Pattinson. The talented fast bowler has had a promising start to his international career, excepting a few frustrating injuries, and has picked up 40 wickets in just ten Test matches. England have not faced Pattinson before and according to Australian bowler Pat Cummings, he will be “a shock to the system of the England batsmen.”
Pattinson has the ability to swing the ball both ways and he does so at a remarkable pace of over 140kph. It is rare to see a bowler of such height and athleticism who does not compromise on speed in order to get the ball to swing. He is particularly dangerous while bowling his shaping out-swing to the right handed-batsmen.
While Mitchell Starc has already declared that he will be targeting the valuable scalp of Alastair Cook, Pattinson’s contests with Jonathan Trott and Kevin Pietersen will make for delightful viewing.
Trott tries to negate the out-swing with an initial movement across the stumps and Pattinson will have to make sure that he does not commit the mistake of straying onto his legs. Kevin Pietersen, on the other hand, will try to unsettle the young bowler with his counter-attacking ability.
Pattinson is a bowler in the mould of the great Australian quicks like Lilee, Thomson and Mcgrath in terms of his aggressive attitude. He likes to get into the mind of the batsman. Even though there is no greater motivation for that kind of adrenaline rush than the history of the rivalry between the two cricketing nations that the Ashes thrives upon, Pattinson will have an extra reason to throw some fire at the Australian batsman.
Pattinson will be revenging his half-brother Darren Pattinson who played a single Test for England in 2008 against South Africa as he held a dual-passport. The selection turned out to be a massive blunder not because Darren’s performance was particularly bad but because many, including then captain Michael Vaughan, dubbed it a ‘confused selection’.
The match virtually ended Darren Pattinson’s career as there was a lot of undeserved backlash at him and the selectors for choosing him in spite of his Australian connection.
James Pattinson holds a dual passport as well, and has talked about the incident in no uncertain terms condemning the behaviour doled out to his brother. Those matters, however, will be secondary when Pattinson goes out to bowl at Nottingham.
England have been rather generous with their tour invitations and that means that Pattinson has quite an idea about how to exploit the conditions. He was not up to the mark last year when he played a couple of ODIs in England and failed to find his rhythm. He reflected upon that failure a week back after producing a devastating spell against Somerset finishing with seven wickets in the match.
He said, “One thing I’ve changed is I was bowling quite wide of the crease last year in the one-day series.” That negated whatever customary out-swing he was evoking. He drifted onto the pads of Ian Bell and the batsman was full of gratitude as he took full advantage.
His ability to retrospect on his performances and bring about the required correction is an indication that he has a good cricketing mind and thinks about his game. He talked about the changes he has made to his game for the English conditions.
He said, “A lot of the good bowlers out here get close to the stumps, and then with the seam movement it can go either way and gets the batsmen playing a bit more down the ground. That’s one thing I’ve really tried to work on, using the crease more and getting close to the stumps. It’s just the fact I’ve played more cricket now, and I’ve also got into a better rhythm.”
That experience has certainly changed him as a bowler as well as the fact that he has been through a number of injuries. It fosters a lot of patience and composure in a bowler if he realizes the possible threat that these can pose to an athlete’s career.
Australia cannot afford to lose one of their primary bowlers in the course of the series and the fact that Nathan Lyon has not been effective means that the faster bowlers will be on a heavy work-rate. If Australia are to be competitive against the superior-looking English side, James Pattinson will have to be Australia’s answer to James Anderson at the Ashes this year.