Kurtis Patterson is exactly what Australia needs in Test cricket.
In a period where stability and reliability are lacking, whether it stems from performance, selection or communication, the hastily-made decision to bring Patterson into the squad for the Sri Lankan series may turn out to be excellent.
Some may say it screams of desperation – the decision to submit an early squad for the upcoming Test series was made, and now a player has made runs against the opposition, so they’ve been fast-tracked into the team.
The reality, however, is that Patterson should’ve been in the squad from the start of the summer.
Many are only now finding out about Patterson and his exploits, which is unsurprising given his no-fuss approach towards the game.
With an average of 44.73 since the beginning of the 2015-16 Sheffield Shield season, Patterson has consistently done a job for his state while also flying under the radar.
Where the 25-year-old differentiates himself from other current state cricketers is his temperament. Too many have a tendency to attack at inopportune times and give up when the going gets tough.
When there are no patient players within a team’s top six, the balance is completely off and it creates a weak batting formula.
The best teams can produce boring, but productive Test cricket. Australia is far from one of these.
Cheteshwar Pujara absolutely annihilated the host nation in the most recent series, dishing up lessons in what smart, calculated and patient batting can ultimately result in.
India’s Cheteshwar Pujara celebrates after reaching a century. (AP Photo/James Elsby)
England is finally getting games into Rory Burns, while Pakistan’s Azhar Ali is a Pujara clone from a mindset perspective.
Perhaps the best and most comparable example from a mentality-equals-production standpoint is South Africa’s Dean Elgar, who has played 54 Test matches and consistently does his job, wherever he is required to bat in the order.
Still one of the dominant teams in the world, South Africa’s more extravagant and aggressive players flourish in the way they can when Elgar plays his role.
This is what Patterson can provide for Australia batting at three or four.
With 58 first-class games under his belt, introducing Patterson at the same stage as Will Pucovski has strong potential to assist both players.
Pucovski has Ricky Ponting potential, but shouldn’t have a heap of expectation and reliance placed on him.
The nature of Patterson’s game means none of this will affect Pucovski, allowing for a simpler introduction against an easy opponent.
Should the two make their debuts, it also means we get to see Patterson bat in his preferred position in the upper-order, rather than at six, which has long been the Australian tactic.
There’s a reason each international team has its patient batsmen in the top-order. The key to building an innings is to bat around the better, more reliable players – and that’s exactly what Patterson can be for Australia.
This goes far beyond the Sri Lankan series – it would be surprising if most Australian players don’t post big numbers in the two Test matches.
How Patterson bats could be a key factor in the bid to retain the Ashes later in the year.
With Steve Smith and potentially David Warner to return, it places an even greater emphasis on the need for someone to stand up and play the strong supporting role.
It won’t take much for Patterson to establish himself ahead of other options, and while the decision to bring him in three days before a series may leave some domestic players frustrated – and only furthers the argument that the international selection committee either needs to be changed or provide clearer messaging – it could be the best bit of business Australia has conducted in the Test arena for a while.
Australia needs stability to instigate a clearer and more competitive future.
Kurtis Patterson is exactly what is needed and can help Australia move on to better and brighter things.
This Sri Lankan series should be just the beginning.
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