How to manage Patto for Ashes impact
Victoria coach Andrew McDonald says James Pattinson can win Australia a couple of Tests in the UK ... as long as he is handled wisely
10 April 2019, 10:07 AM AEST
Victoria coach Andrew McDonald has delivered a rousing endorsement of James Pattinson's credentials as an Ashes match-winner, but tempered it with a warning for Australia's selectors: he might only have two Tests in him.
McDonald believes Pattinson is among the best fast bowlers when in full flight, having successfully managed the injury-riddled Victorian through the state's triumphant Shield campaign this season.
The 17-Test quick with wire holding his lower back together exploded in the final against NSW, collecting 7-71 for the match to lead the Vics to their fourth title in five seasons and take his season tally up to 26 at 18.92.
His return also saw him take a further step towards his stated goal of playing in this year's Ashes.
But while McDonald believes Pattinson is capable of replicating his dominance in Test cricket again, he cautioned that his successful return to Shield ranks during the summer was partially down to his role as an impact player not saddled with an overly heavy bowling workload.
"I think he's a two-Test player, but he could win you those two Test matches," McDonald said on SEN radio's Whateley program.
"When he plays, Australia's odds increase greatly in terms of winning the Test match. But we can't get overexcited in terms of what his body can cope with.
"We played him seven games this summer, 150-odd overs in seven games and really managed him throughout the summer."
Pattinson's capability with the bat saw him moved up to No.7 for the majority of the season, managing 163 runs at 18, with McDonald suggesting "the jury is out" on whether he could be a full-fledged Test allrounder just yet.
The 28-year-old will have the chance to further push his Ashes case as he returns to play for Nottinghamshire in the coming weeks, following a dominant stint with the club two seasons ago in which he took an extraordinary 32 wickets at 12.02 in just five first-class games.
That came six months before Pattinson had to go under the knife for severe back surgery in November 2017.
The recent Shield final was the first time he'd bowled at full pace since returning, according to McDonald.
If fit, the likes of Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood, along with newcomer Jhye Richardson, are the likely frontrunners for Test fast-bowling berths come August.
But McDonald believes Pattinson, if let loose on livelier pitches, could be a weapon.
"I think he would be an intimidating factor for the English batsman to overcome," the four-Test former allrounder continued.
"If the conditions are right and the game is a quick game in terms of wickets falling regularly because of the surface … (is) a little bit green, which I'm predicting England may do in some Test matches, I think you can go in with three (quicks, including Pattinson) and one (spinner)."
"Because the length of the game would potentially only be three-and-a-half or four days.
"If it was a flatter surface you pick him on, then definitely it'd have to be part of a four-man pace attack (for Pattinson to play). I think the surface would dictate what the formation of the line-up would be.
"Pick your moments and he can be a match-winner in those couple of Test matches.
"(But) if he has to (bowl) heavy overs on flat surfaces, I think that's an accelerated process to potentially injuring him again."
Qantas Ashes Tour of the UK 2019
Tour match: Australia v Australia A, Hampshire, July 23-26
First Test: August 1-5 at Edgbaston, Birmingham
Tour match: Australia v Worcester, August 7-9
Second Test: August 14-18 at Lord's, London
Third Test: August 22-26 at Headingley, Leeds
Tour match: Australia v Derbyshire, August 29-31
Fourth Test: September 4-8 at Old Trafford, Manchester
Fifth Test: September 12-16 at The Oval, London