Now Pattinson joins Aussie bowler casualty ward
Australian cricketers embrace James Pattinson, but he won't bowl again during the Test cricket season through another injury (AAP Image/Julian Smith)
Another week, another injured Australian bowler – it’s like living in a land created by Lewis Carroll.
James Pattinson has become the latest casualty among the country’s pace bowling ranks, ruled out for the four remaining Tests of the summer with a side/rib injury.
Pattinson is a terrific talent (31 wickets at 22) but his litany of injuries have blighted his short international career.
He made his first-class debut four years ago and has managed just 20 matches since, spending more time with medical staff than with his family.
At this rate, Cricket Australia is going to have to petition the federal government for funds to build a specialist care facility.
Already the national selectors have been denied the services of Pat Cummins and Ryan Harris for the season.
Cummins will not set foot on a first-class ground for two successive summers.
Recently, Victorian skipper and all-rounder Andrew MacDonald succumbed to injury and won’t suit up again this season, neither will his fast bowling teammate Clint McKay.
Western Australian all-rounder Mitch Marsh is another who has gone into cotton wool until after the end of the summer.
Shane Watson is hoping to return to the fold for the third Test in Perth this week having once again broken down at the bowling crease.
Watson, the national vice-captain, failed to turn out for any of Australia’s Tests last summer.
Surely, it is high time that some very serious questions were asked of CA’s conditioning staff.
Many a dollar is paid to men whose express job is to keep players on the paddock.
If they were paid on performance they would be struggling to make their mortgage repayments.
It was fascinating to listen to Richie Benaud reflect on his career during a commentary stint on Saturday afternoon at the Adelaide Oval.
He spoke of his experiences touring England and told of the amazing demands that were placed on players in those days.
He reflected on the fact that they played cricket largely six days a week – the only day off being Sunday.
It was commonplace for the team to finish a three-day match against a county and head to the train station so as to be ready to turn out for another three-day game the next day in another part of England.
Taking Australia’s 1961 Ashes tour as an example, the tourists commenced their first match on 29 April and concluded playing on 8 September.
During that 140-day period they spent 119 days on the field.
While Benaud was describing the arduous schedule, fellow-commentator Michael Slater was expressing his amazement.
Australian summers back then were pretty much full-on as well.
When players weren’t playing Tests, they were playing for their state, and when not doing either they turned out for their club sides.
Even more recently, Australian players were far busier during the summer than their current- day counterparts.
The likes of Terry Alderman, Geoff Lawson and co, all played around five Sheffield Shield matches each summer on top of their Test and one-day international appearances and it was not uncommon for them to squeeze in a club match or two as well in between first-class commitments.
And yet, those players, like Ray Lindwall and Keith Miller never seemed to attract the injuries that modern-day pace bowlers do.
Nowadays the emphasis is placed on gym work, stretching, plyometrics and the like.
And yet, the rate of casualties would indicate that it isn’t working.
Fast bowlers of yesteryear will tell you that the best way to prepare your body for bowling is by bowling.
Maybe that sounds too simplistic for the modern-day university-degree laden fitness gurus.
But given the pandemic rate of injuries amongst Australia’s current crop of bowlers maybe a return to the methods of the olden days may be worth experimenting with.
At present, there appears little to lose!
Perhaps allowing bowlers to play for their states in four-day and one-day encounters once the international season is up and running is worth considering.
Or, God forbid, maybe they could allow them to lift their quota of deliveries in the nets between matches.
Could you imagine telling the likes of Dennis Lillee, Lindwall or Miller to stop bowling after a certain amount of deliveries during a net session, especially if they working on a particular aspect of their technique or repertoire.
I dare say you may end up wearing a six-stitch bruise on your person!
After 21 years as a sports broadcaster with the ABC, since mid-2011 Glenn Mitchell has been freelancing in the electronic and written media. He is an ambassador for mental health in Australia, and tweets from @mitchellglenn.