Brisbane Heat coach and Test legend Daniel Vettori believes his squad for this summer's KFC Big Bash has been boosted by a man capable of becoming a "world-class allrounder".
The Heat announced back in March the signing of James Pattinson, one of Australia's finest pacemen but also one of its most injury prone.
But Vettori, who has been monitoring the progress of Pattinson in the JLT Sheffield Shield since his comeback to first-class cricket on November 3, said he envisaged getting the best value out of the Victorian as a fast-bowling allrounder.
Following his return, Pattinson has taken eight wickets in four Shield matches, bowling 17 overs in each of his first three comeback games, and 14 ahead of the final day of the Vics' clash with Western Australia in Melbourne.
"We've obviously been crossing our fingers, hoping he gets through (Shield cricket without incident)," said Vettori. "He's had a high workload, and speaking to him, he's starting to feel more and more confident in his body.
"The reason we got him here is because we think he can be a game-changer.
"He hasn't played a heap of T20 cricket, but if you look at the last few years of his overall cricket, he's really started to mature as an allrounder, and I think that's where we'll get the most benefit of him – as a strike bowler and looking to bat in that seven or eight role, which is a crucial role in the T20 game."
After spending more than a year on the sidelines due to serious back surgery, Pattinson made tentative steps back toward the top level via Premier Cricket with Dandenong, before scoring a century in October in a lone appearance for Victoria's Toyota Futures League team.
Throughout his decorated playing career at the top level, Vettori transitioned from a left-arm orthodox spinner to a genuine bowling allrounder; the left-hander didn't score a Test hundred until his 49th Test, but finished his 113-match career with six centuries and an average of 30.
He believes Pattinson, who averages 25.14 with the bat in first-class cricket and has publicly voiced his desire to be considered an allrounder, has shown the potential to make a similar transformation.
The numbers support the theory; from his past 19 first-class innings stretching back to an earlier comeback in February 2017, he averages 32.56.
"If you follow the last couple of years – what he did at Notts (in county cricket), and what he's slowly doing with Victoria at the moment – you can see a cricketer who has developed a lot," Vettori said.
"More around his all-round game. When cricketers have injuries, they do look to try and develop other aspects (of their game) and I think 'Patto' was always a batsman, but he's really come on with that.
"There's hope that his bowling and his body stays (right), because it's a pretty special package, but when you add the batting to it as well, he could become one of those world-class allrounders."
While there is a risk that Pattinson's speed could be to the advantage of batsmen on a Gabba wicket that traditionally produces pace, bounce and high scores, Vettori said he has no hesitations about unleashing the tearaway at the beginning of an innings in the hope of new-ball wickets.
In that capacity, he believes the 28-year-old is capable of winning matches – something the Heat will need to do more in BBL|08 than they did last summer when they missed the finals after a poor finish to the tournament.
"We want to utilise him in that (opening) role," he added. "We don't want to put the pressure around death bowling as much, it's just coming on in the first 6-12 overs and using his express pace to try and take wickets.
"If you look at the history of the Big Bash, it's really hard to get a good read on form.
"Teams can come from anywhere, and that's normally down to individual players.
"Individual players win T20 games, and that's what we'll be looking for more and more this season – in those crucial times, guys standing up and winning matches for the Heat."
The Heat squad assemble this week, with an intra-squad practice game scheduled for Wednesday evening at Metricon Stadium on the Gold Coast, where they will play two matches this summer.