The one thing keeping me driven: Pattinson

Luckless fast bowler reveals what's keeping him motivated to once again embark on the mentally-taxing road of injury rehab

Injury-cursed quick James Pattinson admits he might have considered giving away top-flight cricket altogether after his latest setback if it wasn't for his astonishing recent form with the ball.

Following a carefully managed recovery from serious injury, Pattinson suffered another devastating blow last month when he was ruled out of the Magellan Ashes having reaggravated a stress fracture in his lower back.

The Victorian admits the re-occurrence of the old injury is "concerning" and, along with Cricket Australia medical staff, is now weighing up whether to undergo surgery on his troublesome back.   

Most frustratingly for those who'd been hopeful of seeing Pattinson lead Australia's Test attack this summer is the fact he's been in the form of his life. 

Since his return to domestic cricket last summer, Pattinson has taken 56 wickets at 14.35 in 10 first-class matches, leaving a trail of destruction in Australia – leading Victoria to their third straight Sheffield Shield title – and then in England, where he helped Nottinghamshire achieve promotion from Division Two of the County Championship. 

The best of Pattinson's stump-rattling county stint

But a dejected Pattinson says his golden touch – which has extended to the batting crease as well, averaging 40 with the blade in first-class cricket this year – is his main motivation to once again begin the long and mentally-taxing road of rehabilitation.  

"I think that's the thing that keeps me driven," the 27-year-old told  

"If I was struggling to get wickets and play you'd almost contemplate giving it away with the setbacks that I've had. 

"But I think because when I've come back and I've done really well it's (given me) a bit of hope that one day I might be right and I can have a good run at it. 

"I know that now when I do play, I can compete and do really well and I think that’s the big thing – that I can contribute to winning games of cricket. 

"If I can get my back right I’ll be right but, let’s wait and see."

Pattinson last summer cautiously tempered expectations following his recovery from a back injury, having previously learnt the hard way after returning from an ailment too early.

Many had him as the frontrunner to replace Mitchell Starc on Australia's Qantas Tour of India when the left-armer went down with a foot injury in March, but Pattinson told selectors to overlook him.

March: Pattinson completes a fiery five-fer

"I know the last two times I've done something like this, flown over to a series where it's in the balance and there's the potential of me bowling close to 40, 50 overs, which I have – in South Africa in 2014 I did it, and then last year I did the same thing in New Zealand – going in with not a lot of cricket, and it hasn't really turned out very well for me," he told RSN Radio at the time.

"We didn't want to make that same mistake again, because at 26, if I went over there and did my back again or something, it would be not an ideal thing for the third time."

Instead he continued his steady-as-it-goes approach with the Bushrangers before jetting off to join Nottinghamshire to follow in the footsteps of his brother Darren, a born-and-bred Australian who played a one-off Test for England in 2008.

James and Darren playing for Victoria in 2012 // Getty
James and Darren Pattinson playing for Victoria in 2012 // Getty

"I loved it," the younger Pattinson said of his five-game, 32-wicket Championship stint with Notts.

"It was a great experience, obviously the cricket over there is a bit different, it's a little bit more relaxed because they play a lot more.

"The big thing for me was getting to somewhere my brother played a lot of his cricket. He played a lot of games in Nottingham and it was a great chance for me to play a fair bit of cricket which I hadn't played." 

"Playing in different conditions, playing with a different bunch of guys was really good too and it was almost one of the best experiences I've had in my cricket career."

Pattinson bags eight and top scores on debut

Now on the sidelines for an indefinite period, Pattinson has tipped Pat Cummins, another quick who can perhaps relate to Pattinson's predicament better than anyone, as the bowler most likely to thrive against England this summer.

"As fast bowlers you have a lot of setbacks and it seems like one of us is always injured while the other ones are up and going," said Pattinson.

"Patty has had a great couple of years now so it's really good to see him getting on the scene and doing really well after having a lot of troubles early on.

"It's pleasing for me to see him doing so well.

"He was really impressive in Bangladesh the way he bowled on pretty lifeless wickets, bowled with really good pace.

"He’s just a fierce competitor who loves a contest so I think he's probably one that will shine during the Ashes."

2017-18 International Fixtures:

Magellan Ashes Series

First Test Gabba, November 23-27. Buy tickets

Second Test Adelaide Oval, December 2-6 (Day-Night). Buy tickets

Third Test WACA Ground, December 14-18. Buy tickets

Fourth Test MCG, December 26-30. Buy tickets

Fifth Test SCG, January 4-8 (Pink Test). Buy tickets

ODI Series v England

First ODI MCG, January 14. Buy tickets

Second ODI Gabba, January 19. Buy tickets

Third ODI SCG, January 21. Buy tickets

Fourth ODI Adelaide Oval, January 26. Buy tickets

Fifth ODI Perth TBC, January 28. Join the ACF

Prime Minister's XI

PM's XI v England Manuka Oval, February 2. Buy tickets

T20 trans-Tasman Tri-Series

First T20I Australia v NZ, SCG, February 3. Buy tickets

Second T20I – Australia v England, Blundstone Arena, February 7. Buy tickets

Third T20I – Australia v England, MCG, February 10. Buy tickets

Fourth T20I – NZ v England, Wellington, February 13

Fifth T20I – NZ v Australia, Eden Park, February 16

Sixth T20I – NZ v England, Seddon Park, February 18

Final – TBC, Eden Park, February 21