Australia A Tour of England - Men's
Patto being primed for Ashes injection
Vics tearaway looking more certain than ever to figure in Australia's Ashes campaign, should his body hold up
16 April 2019, 04:37 PM AEST
Australia's national selection panel do not believe the contracting of James Pattinson is a gamble, with the injury-plagued Victorian quick now looming as a likely Ashes x-factor in the UK from August 1.
Pattinson was on Monday rewarded for his perseverance and performances in JLT Sheffield Shield cricket with a Cricket Australia (CA) central contract, while the 17-Test paceman has already arrived at Trent Bridge to begin his County Championship stint with Nottinghamshire.
He will then link up with the Australia A one-day and four-day squads from around mid-June as CA look to best manage the fragile paceman's workloads in the lead-up to the Ashes.
Given his chequered history with injury, as well as the fact he averaged just 21 overs across seven Shield matches through the Vics' title-winning campaign, the 28-year-old's contracting could be viewed as a calculated gamble by selectors, who are also acutely aware of his upside in pace-bowling friendly conditions.
Speaking on the matter on Monday however, head selector Trevor Hohns didn't see it that way.
"We don't see it as a risk at all with Patto," Hohns said. "I don't know if anybody saw the Sheffield Shield final but I certainly did and he's very exciting.
"He's almost back to full fitness. He does need some bowling, there's no doubt about it, and as we know he's over playing county cricket.
"He will play a certain number of games for his county, Nottingham, and then join us for the Australia A tour, and that's in both squads.
"Of course we'll be taking a lot of care with him, and making sure he's managed properly – we don't just want him for a short time now, we want him for a long time.
"He's certainly been told that, so he understands the situation and we've got high hopes for Patto in his comeback."
After touching down in England last week, Pattinson reported little stiffness or soreness from the lengthy transit, though he did concede he "haven't probably tested my back out fully yet to see what I can do and how many overs I can cope with".
"We've got a pretty heavy one-day schedule with eight games and potentially some finals in a short space of time but with not having to bowl more than 10 overs in any game you can plan and prepare quite well," he told ESPN.
"With four-day cricket you don't know if you're going to be playing 30 overs or 50 overs and it is hard to plan for sometimes.
"But a run of one-day games will hopefully put me in good stead for the longer spells.
"It is about playing cricket and building up my strength and stamina. I didn't bowl a heap of overs in the Shield games – I think the most was 26 overs in a game. So the next step is to see how I cope with more overs and see how my body responds.
"But at the moment my back feels as good as it ever has. It is too early to be looking too far ahead but I feel it's promising times."
Pattinson took seven wickets in two matches in the 2013 Ashes then returned to England for a devastating stint with Notts in 2017, in which he captured 32 wickets at 12.06 in five matches.
Hohns said the right-arm speedster was certainly an Ashes prospect should fitness allow.
"I can't guarantee he'll be in the Ashes squad but I think being in the contract list at least gives an indicator that we're very keen on Patto, because at his best he's very exciting, and he could form a formidable fast-bowling quartet then with the other three guys (Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins).
"Obviously we're hoping he can stay fit – that's the important thing – and be available for the Ashes if the opportunity arises."
Australia A tour of the UK
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Matthew Wade, Will Pucovski, Peter Handscomb, Ashton Turner, Mitch Marsh (vc), D'Arcy Short, Kurtis Patterson, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Kane Richardson, Sean Abbott
Australia A four-day squad: Tim Paine (c), Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Travis Head (vc), Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Chris Tremain
June 20: Australia A v Northamptonshire, The County Ground, Northamptonshire
June 23: Australia A v Derbyshire, County Ground, Derby
June 25: Australia A v Worcestershire, New Road, Worcester
June 30: Australia A v Gloucestershire, Bristol Country Ground, Bristol
July 2: Australia A v Gloucestershire, Bristol Country Ground, Bristol
July 7-10: Australia A v Sussex, Arundel Castle Cricket Ground, Arundel
July 13-16: Australia A v England Lions, The Spitfire Ground, Canterbury
July 23-26: Australia v Australia A, Ageas Bowl, Hampshire