Sheffield Shield 2016-17
Pattinson opens door for pace quartet
Victorian speedster pushes case for allrounder status as Ashes series looms next summer
Louis Cameron at Traeger Park, Alice Springs
28 March 2017, 08:32 AM AEST
James Pattinson may have found the solution to fitting Australia’s entire pace quartet into one mouth-watering bowling attack for next summer’s Ashes series after the fiery quick restated his case to be considered a genuine allrounder.
With the highly-anticipated series on the horizon next summer and fellow speedsters Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins (amongst others) vying for a first-Test berth at the Gabba, Pattinson delivered a telling reminder of his skills with the blade in the Sheffield Shield final.
Quick Single: Vics end day two in dominant position
After surviving a close shout for lbw before he'd scored, the stylish left-hander posted a career-best 80 in a 139-run seventh-wicket stand with fourth-gamer Seb Gotch before turning to his dominant skill and demolishing the stumps of South Australia opener John Dalton late in the day.
The contrasting efforts of a stubborn 383-ball partnership followed by four fearsome overs of high-speed bowling gave a glimpse of the frightening package that Pattinson presents.
Having worked diligently on his batting for his Victorian Premier Cricket side Dandenong, with whom he’s hit two centuries and 560 runs this season batting in the middle order, Pattinson admits he has lofty ambitions with the willow.
"I love my batting, I work pretty hard on it," he said after day two in Alice Springs, where Victoria hold a 472-run lead.
"Every time I go out there I put a value on my wicket.
"Being a fast bowler, there’s nothing worse than seeing someone come in at No.8 and batting for 200 balls.
"I’ve had a bit of practice with Dandenong this year. It was good to put that into practice at the back-end of the Shield season and get a few runs and help team out.
"I’ve always hoped that I could get to No.7 one day and become an allrounder."
The 26-year-old is far from Australia's only Test quick with lower-order batting ability.
Starc’s 84 in last year’s Boxing Day Test, a knock that included a MCG record of seven sixes, helped Australia claim an improbable victory over Pakistan, while his quickfire 61 in Pune last month lifted his side from a perilous 9-205 to a match-winning total of 260.
And Cummins, who also bats in the middle order at club level, batted as high as No.6 for the Sydney Thunder in this summer’s KFC Big Bash League and has a first-class batting average of 26.
The trio’s combined batting prowess could provide Australia with a genuine option of fielding five specialist bowlers in a Test XI; selectors could opt to play five specialist batsmen, a wicketkeeper at No.6 and then a lower order of Pattinson, Starc, Cummins, Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon.
And based on the evidence offered in the Red Centre on Monday, a move up the batting order would not be beyond Pattinson.
The left-hander strode to the middle of Traeger Park after the Bushrangers had squandered 3-7 early in the day, with South Australia looking good to run through the lower-order with the second new ball.
At 6-345 it was hardly panic stations, but a major collapse would have invited the Redbacks back into a contest Victoria have dominated from ball one.
But along with Gotch, Pattinson blunted South Australia’s threatening pace trio and forced them to deliver spell after spell as the pair reached lunch, and then proceeded the bat for the whole second session.
"Me and Gotchy just said 'let’s give them nothing here'," Pattinson said.
"If we’d lost three (more) quick wickets there, we could have all out for 350 and it’s a different ball game."
Pattinson eventually departed 20 shy of a maiden first-class century but the innings, his second score in excess of 50 for the Bushrangers this season, put his side back in control of the game.
And while a Test return appears closer than ever, his short-term goal is to help Victoria claim their third straight Shield title.
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"It was a valuable partnership and to get to close to 500 was really good,” he said. “Young Seb Gotch in his first final ... batted really well.
"The wicket’s stating to break up a little bit now, there’s a few plates there where some are bouncing a bit too.
"There’s enough in it and hopefully tomorrow we can come out and bowl really well."