Pattinson should focus on bowling, not being an attack dog

Andrew Marmont Roar Guru

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    James Pattinson's latest injury puts in question Australia's quest for speed demons. (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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    The Crowd Says (46)

    • November 20th 2012 @ 4:15am
      ak said | November 20th 2012 @ 4:15am | ! Report

      Sledging is all right upto a certain extent. And I think Steve Waugh was one of the best bcoz he never lost his cool. Javed Miandad & Glenn McGrath were top sledgers. But what I didn’t like about them was that they liked to sledge but were not sporting enough when they were sledged. The 1992 frog-jump by Miandad & the 2003 incident involving Sarwan-McGrath are a testimony to that. In fact Ian Chappell was a top sledger too. Hayden, Symonds, Slater again didn’t like to be sledged. But Hayden used to answer with the bat when being sledged. Hayden often seemed rude but backed up his words with performance. I am not a fan of Hayden but have to admit the big man was hardly ever dominated on the field. Merv Hughes was a top sledger. Some of the top sledging incidents are those involving :
      1. Lillee – Miandad
      2. Sarwan – McGrath
      3. Harbhajan – Symonds
      4. Merv Hughes – Viv Richards
      5. Dravid – S Waugh
      6. Brandes – McGrath
      And on and on.
      Though I must say that the first three were ugly and should not have taken place.

      • Roar Guru

        November 20th 2012 @ 8:07am
        Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:07am | ! Report

        Thanks AK, nice insight there. Yes some good ones you have listed. I have to disagree with you about McGrath – in the wide literature I have read, biographies and other pieces, McGrath didn’t sledge- he just said nasty stuff. If you read Adam Parore’s bio for one. In the 2001/2 tour, when NZ were competing well, McGrath kept hurling abuse. The Kiwi guys thought it was hilarious….

        • November 20th 2012 @ 9:19am
          Don Corleone said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:19am | ! Report

          Oh, that’s the Adam Parore who called Mark Waugh a ‘c@#t’ and his then wife an ‘old ugly sl@t’? Not prone to abuse himself just mental gamesmanship.

          • Roar Guru

            November 20th 2012 @ 10:27am
            Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:27am | ! Report

            Yes, the same one Don. Did he actually say that? As I say, no one player or country is immune. Pattinson will learn over time.

            • November 20th 2012 @ 8:50pm
              Arthur Fonzarelli said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:50pm | ! Report

              My understanding of Parore vs Waugh is as follows.

              M.Waugh to Parore as he came out to bat – “Didnt you come over here a few years ago ? You were shit then and youre shit now”

              Parore – “Yeah last time I was here werent you were with that old, ugly sl%t. And I hear now youve married her, you dumb c@nt”.

    • Roar Guru

      November 20th 2012 @ 7:56am
      Vas Venkatramani said | November 20th 2012 @ 7:56am | ! Report

      Andrew, while I agree with the overall premise that Pattinson would be better to focus on his bowling than his verbals, the lesson will only really sink in when he sledges the wrong guy. And it happens to all of them. Shane Warne said in 1998 that he made the mistake of trying to needle Tendulkar, and he smashed him out of the park that tour, and said he learnt to keep his mouth shut from that point around him.

      Pattinson has talent, and like all fast bowlers (good ones), he isn’t short of a word. He’ll learn in the long run that mere sledging does not a fast bowler make (ask Sreesanth), and that he needs to implement all the lessons from McDermott to have continued success.

      • Roar Guru

        November 20th 2012 @ 8:02am
        Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:02am | ! Report

        Yes good point Vas. Hey, he doesn’t know any better. He’s a baby in terms of experience. I recall Tim Southee giving him a chirp after dismissing him last year after Pattinson got stuck into him when Southee was batting, but didn’t like that so much…it is all part of experience.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 8:21am
      jameswm said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:21am | ! Report

      Oh poor, poor Graeme Smith. Poor dear. How could he be expected to bat in the face of a few nasty words from that brutal Aussie bowler? Graeme’s such a nice young boy and that brutal Aussie bowler should be sent to stand in the corner.

      Apart from how riduclous your premise is, who doesn’t love a battle between a big fast bowler and an opening batsman? It’s a great part of the game, one on one. It gets everyone’s blood boiling and is fun to both watch and be involved in. If you didn’t enjoy what went on between Pattinson and Smith, go and play your cricket on the clouds.

      I’ve got no issue with banter between a batsman and bowler. The 3rd man in is different. And since Clarke took over, there’s been a noticeable reduction in sledging, abuse, banter, call it what you will. The bad-natured stuff rarely if ever happens.

      And then we finish on the premise of South Africans ever complaining about copping abuse (note though Smith didn’t say a thing in complaint). Ever seen a S15 game or test at basically any South African ground? What Pattinson did is a drop in the ocean in comparison.

      • Roar Guru

        November 20th 2012 @ 8:42am
        Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:42am | ! Report

        PS, I enjoyed the sarcasm in your opening lines. But there is no defending the Protea skipper here, nor will you see any in the piece….

    • Roar Guru

      November 20th 2012 @ 8:32am
      Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 8:32am | ! Report

      Hi James – thanks for your thoughts. Think you miss the point of the article… Pattinson has a long way to go before he thinks hurling invectives at a guy like Graeme Smith is part of his armoury. Sooner or later he wil run into a bloke who will give it back, and he will learn. I was focusing on what happened at the Gabba, and rounded it off by saying no one country is immune. Not sure what you mean in your last paragraph? As I said, sledging is part of any sport. But Pattinson needs to grow up, cos Aussie need a guy who will focus on his job.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 9:28am
        Don Corleone said | November 20th 2012 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        Andrew, if we are focussing particularly on the Gabba, what are your thoughts on Graeme Smith standing-over and verballing Ed Cowan out of earshot from the umpires? Cowan was minding his own buiness and responded with silence and a dignified smile.

        As far as Pattinson’s behaviour towards Smith is concerned, it is certainly no worse than I saw Dale Steyn direct at Michael Clarke in the first test at Cape Town last year.

        • Roar Guru

          November 20th 2012 @ 10:28am
          Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:28am | ! Report

          Don, thanks for your thoughts. As I said, Smith isn’t a saint, and is not immune. I didn’t actually witness first hand the above incident, but I guess the picture behind the article is to say to Pattinson – as a young guy, best off focusing on his bowling, better use of his expertise.

          • November 20th 2012 @ 2:33pm
            Don Corleone said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:33pm | ! Report

            There-in lies the problem. I watched the test match (as much as I could around work commitments and the 2-hour nightly highlights on Fox Sports) not just the knee-jerk media beat-up.

            • Roar Guru

              November 20th 2012 @ 3:18pm
              Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 3:18pm | ! Report

              Well, what can I say – it’s fans like you who keep the media and writers out there on on their toes! Keep it up…

              • November 20th 2012 @ 4:41pm
                Don Corleone said | November 20th 2012 @ 4:41pm | ! Report

                Andrew, as you’ve very rightly pointed-out that Graeme Smith is no angel and from what I observed he was as involved in the gamesmanship/banter/sledging during the test as Pattinson or Siddle.

      • November 20th 2012 @ 12:50pm
        jameswm said | November 20th 2012 @ 12:50pm | ! Report

        He will run into someone who will give what back how? You mean he’ll run into someone who’s tough enough to cop the words and make a big score? You think that’s never happened to him already?

        Or is Graeme Smith too senior a test player that a young upstart like Pattinson should pay him more respect? Or Pattinson needs to take 150 test wickets before he’s allowed to let fly?

        And who says that giving a few choice words to a batsman means Pattinson’s not focusing on his job or is doing it any worse? He removed Smith straight afterwards, so maybe he bowls better like that. Some people do.

    • November 20th 2012 @ 10:55am
      Bayman said | November 20th 2012 @ 10:55am | ! Report

      Judging by some of the responses here it seems like all sledging can be justified on the grounds that “He did it first – so I’m just retaliating”.

      It misses the obvious point that no great batsman has ever been dismissed by words. It’s all very well for people to point out that Daryl Cullinan might have been a soft touch for Warne but it wasn’t the chat that got him out.

      Fast bowlers, and particularly young fast bowlers like Pattinson, need to quickly realise that aggressive chat does not frighten batsmen, does not make them want to go away somewhere safe and definitely does not get them out.

      Sledging survives because everybody has simply become used to it. I did it last week, or it was done to me, therefore I’ll do it this week too. It is the most over-rated crap since someone said, centuries ago, that smoking was good for you. Chatting begats chatting. Sledgers get what they deserve.

      I was delighted when Sarwan gave it back to McGrath in spades – and McGrath’s reaction was pricelessly ridiculous. Like a little kid’s tantrum. Blind Freddy could have predicted the obvious response but, being a fast bowler, it somehow missed our Glenn. No sympathy – at all.

      I would, however, pick up on a couple of points – one in the article and one in the response from “ak”. Jeff Thomson was not a big sledger – at his pace he didn’t have to be. He knew the batsman was nervous and the batsman knew he knew. Neither was Ian Chappell a big sledger but he was more than happy to accommodate any who were. Chappell rarely initiated chat in the middle but he responded to any interfering where he thought it was none of their business, e.g. Glenn Turner.

      Steve Waugh called it ‘mental disintegration’ without ever providing any proof whatsoever that anybody had disintegrated. Players sledge for no other reason than they can – and they did it last week. Creatures of habit.

      As suggested above, Warne stopped sledging Tendulkar when it became obvious that the more he spoke the further the ball travelled. Perhaps Steve Waugh thought Tendulkar was panicking by playing attacking shots, “Keep going Warnie – he’s disintegrating!”

      The notion of sledging is ludicrous, particularly at the top level. Youth is a wonderful thing – it comes with equal parts physical capability and naive stupidity. Has Pattinson ever stopped to think about Graeme Smith’s record – and history. Does he really think that a few words will make any difference at all?

      All Pattinson has achieved is to make himself look like the world’s greatest goose. Chat won’t make him quicker. Chat won’t help him put the ball into the danger zone for batsmen. Chat won’t help him, on a road, when the batsman is flogging him.

      Why does he bother – apart form being too bloody stupid to know any better. I’ve yet to see any scoreboard, or scorebook, where the dismissal is noted as “Sledged out”. There’s a message there somewhere.

      • Roar Guru

        November 20th 2012 @ 11:24am
        Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        What a cracking post Bayman – nailed it beautifully. Thanks for your thoughts!

      • Columnist

        November 20th 2012 @ 11:24am
        Brett McKay said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:24am | ! Report

        Precisely Bayman. I really think we let ourselves get too caught up in this whole sledging thing sometimes, it seems every summer there’s a race to the moral high horse so that we can look down our noses and shake our fists at the next darstardly young bowler who dare break his silence on his follow-through.

        Honestly, this was all dealt with on the field a week ago, and with no further recriminations, so why are we still talking about it now??

        • Roar Guru

          November 20th 2012 @ 11:44am
          Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:44am | ! Report

          Hi Brett, thanks for your thoughts – well, to your last point, Pattinson only replied back to what happened this week, so there is a slight current of newsworthiness about it. It isn’t so much about breaking silence – competitive human beings often don’t – but more about an open discussion about whether he should focus on the bowling part and not so much the other tactics?

          • Columnist

            November 20th 2012 @ 12:13pm
            Brett McKay said | November 20th 2012 @ 12:13pm | ! Report

            Andrew, if giving the batsman a few suggestions is part of Pattinson’s – or any other bowler’s – mode of operation, then good on him. The only people who will ultimately carry any power in this discussion (if there must be one) are the umpires, Michael Clarke, and the other four selectors..

            • November 20th 2012 @ 12:52pm
              jameswm said | November 20th 2012 @ 12:52pm | ! Report

              Agreed Brett. If that’s what works for Pattinson, then go right ahead.

            • Roar Guru

              November 20th 2012 @ 1:12pm
              Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:12pm | ! Report

              Brett- if a bit of “chat” fires up Pattinson and elevates his performance, great, keep doing it. I agree. But he needs to know the line between what he was doing and working a batsmen over in other ways…yes, that is up to Clarke, the selectors et al…

      • November 20th 2012 @ 12:58pm
        jameswm said | November 20th 2012 @ 12:58pm | ! Report

        Is there a differentiation between “chat” and “sledging” Bayman?

        Chat can certainly bring a player down, directly. And it can indirectly too, by making a batsman more nervous and affecting his shot selection. But what turns “chat” into “sledging”?

        Whether or not the chat worries Smith, maybe it fires Pattinson up and makes him bowl better sometimes. Maybe it made Smith want to teach him a lesson and hit him round, which (mindset) ultimately cost Smith his wicket (very soon afterwards).

        The batsman delayed taking guard and pulled away. That’s enough for some choice words from a bowler.

        Tough talk between a batsman and a bowler, it’s part of the game. I think the fact that so much has been made of this bowler/batsman tete-a-tete shows that the Aussies do much less of it under Clarke.

        • Roar Guru

          November 20th 2012 @ 1:14pm
          Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:14pm | ! Report

          Fair point about Clarke and not doing as much “tete-a-tete” James. A great point actually. Perhaps this is an area he has focused on.

          • November 20th 2012 @ 1:45pm
            jameswm said | November 20th 2012 @ 1:45pm | ! Report

            I dunno if he’s focused on it, he’s just not like that. Ponting and SWaugh, they were real hard heads.

            Clarke’s just a different personality. A lot of us (me included) queried whether he was tough enough for the top job, but they’re winning, playing attacking cricket, reading the game, and he’s scoring big runs. Can’t ask for much more.

            • Roar Guru

              November 20th 2012 @ 2:21pm
              Andrew Marmont said | November 20th 2012 @ 2:21pm | ! Report

              I questioned Clarke’s appointment too James. It didn’t help matters when the papers had pictures of him with all his tattoos and rockstar lifestyle.. but they are doing well, aren’t they. Captains can be different personalities, but as long as they get the job done, who cares?

        • Roar Guru

          November 20th 2012 @ 3:49pm
          dasilva said | November 20th 2012 @ 3:49pm | ! Report

          There’s a good story about how Mike atherton got out as a result of sledging

          Mike Atherton was called a selfish player and he got angry about that and he got himself dismissed trying to prove Healy wrong he wasn’t selfish

          “The only time I can remember falling down was in my third Test when I was facing Shane Warne and Ian Healy said I was going to play for a red-inker [a not out]. My pride took over and I thought, `Sod you, I’ll show you I’m not playing for a red-inker.’ I bolted down the wicket and got stumped.”

    • November 20th 2012 @ 11:16am
      Jamie said | November 20th 2012 @ 11:16am | ! Report

      Smith deserved it. Sure there may have been a bird that time, but he was intebtionally delaying taking guard late to break the bowler’s rythym dll thru the first day. Patto may have overreacted, but I’d back Smith to get on anyone’s nerves!

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