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James Pattinson: The great 'what if' as he succumbs to injuries

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Roar Guru
23rd October, 2021
14

Sadly, one of Australia’s most underrated fast bowlers, James Pattinson, has retired from international cricket.

Pato, as he was nicknamed, was dangerously quick, and we as cricket fans will miss out on a fast bowler who could make every audience stop and watch his magical spells on any arena, from grade cricket to the Boxing Day Test.

There are many players who represented Australia but unfortunately retried early due to injury. I’m thinking of Phil Jaques, Ryan Harris and Peter George, who never hit their top. Now James Pattinson joins that list.

Pattinson was scary from the outset with bat and ball in hand, even at Victoria under-18 level, and as he rose up the ranks he became only more awesome to watch. When he came to playing Test cricket, boy was it fun to watch, especially that first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba, in which he took five wickets. It could be compared to only Dale Steyn’s debut.

Then against India he showed his whole worth with five wickets and a knock of 55, which made Bill Lawry proud. If you need reminding, jump on YouTube and watch the highlights, because they are brilliant to watch.

Then he went to the Subcontinent, where the best fast bowlers in the world go to die, but in the first Test against the same Indian team he destroyed in the Aussie summer he repeated his heroics, taking another five-wicket haul in Chepauk.

Then Pattinson had a hiatus due to the chaos that was ‘homeworkgate’, and he was made to wait his turn while Australia went on to win the Ashes five-nil.

Adjustments to his bowling style were made in the interim despite the risk of lower back stress fractures, and after making some noise in the Big Bash League and the Sheffield Shield, he was back in the national Test side – albeit at a chaotic time for Australian cricket, which was reeling from a series loss to South Africa.

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His first match back was against the West Indies, with the Aussies looking to regain some respect. And It was like he’d never left. He was fast and scary quick, and he equalled his best figures with 5-27.

Sadly, those stress fractures came back to haunt him, and he faced another long battle to return to the red-ball game. It eventually came in the third Ashes Test in 2019 in Headingley, a match headlined by Ben Stokes.

Pattinson took three wickets in the match, but he was dropped for Mitchell Starc due to the side’s bowling rotation policy.

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After sitting on the sidelines and watching on as his teammates reclaimed the Ashes in England for the first time in 20 years, Pattinson returned to domestic cricket with a point to prove. He took wicket after wicket and made run after run until he was recalled for the second Test against New Zealand at his home deck, the MCG.

He took six wickets in the game, but they were the last wickets he would ever take at the international level, with his follow-up performance at the SCG yielding no scalps.

Pattinson would never return to the Test scene, and last Wednesday afternoon he announced his international retirement.

Pattinson played 21 matches that featured four five-wicket hauls, a best result of 5-27, 81 wickets and a Test batting average of 26.06.

He will forever remain a what-if, a fast bowling enigma and, most of all a genuine Test cricketer.

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