Pattinson should focus on bowling, not being an attack dog

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Australia's James Pattinson celebrates taking the wicket of India's Sachin Tendulkar during the SCG Test. AP Photo/Rick Rycroft

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Ah, sledging in cricket. A comment about poor technique there, a few words here, it’s all about what former New Zealand wicketkeeper Adam Parore called “mental gamesmanship.”

But the James Pattinson-Peter Siddle verbal attacks against the South Africans in Brisbane was almost boorish, and plain wrong.

Pattinson claimed South African skipper Graeme Smith’s wicket in the second innings after what looked and sounded like a continuous verbal attack.

It started after Smith stepped away from his mark when a bird flew across his vision.

How dare he have the audacity to do that? And the friggin’ bird!

Of course we don’t know what was said; the microphones didn’t pick it up. But you can read body language, facial expressions and read lips to understand the gist.

To top it off, the young fast bowler gave the Protea’s skipper a send off and pointed where the changing rooms were. C’mon Patto.

“I don’t [know] whether it was the sledging because Smith is a pretty cool customer and has been around for quite a while, whether it was just good bowling or whether it was something else,” Pattinson said this week.

Like a bird, perhaps?

We also remember the young Victorian sending out heated commentary to the New Zealand batsmen in their Test series last year.

If you want to carry the mantle Glenn McGrath, Jeff Thompson and Merv Hughes had as ‘Intimidating Aussie Fast Bowler,’ I understand, but there is a place for chat, and another for apparent verbal machine-gun fire.

Smith isn’t one of cricket’s saints either. We know this.

He has had his share of run-ins with cricket captains (notably Stephen Fleming on an early tour as skipper in 2004).

We can all pick out different personalities from different countries acting as the ‘big talker.’ No one country is immune from this.

Sledging is really about taking a batsman’s (or bowler) concentration away from doing their job – i.e. batting or bowling.

Steve Waugh’s Australians, by all accounts, were very good at it; Shane Warne made it an art form. Just ask Daryll Cullinan.

If you play any form of cricket above the level of 16, you get exposed to it in different forms. I’ve seen some shocking outright abuse hurled at my teammates and some plain dumb things happen on a cricket field, all in the name of sledging.

As it stands, Pattinson is a very talented fast bowler who has a penchant for bowling quickly and taking wickets, but also for hurling word-balls of anger.

He is at the starting point of his career, he is young, he is learning, maybe that is how he thinks a fast bowler should act.

He’d be better served concentrating on his job and not trying to be the attack dog he might think he should be. Australia’s immediate success depends on it.

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