Marsh Sheffield Shield 2020-21
Hungry Patterson eyes Test return in season 10
A quad injury derailed his bid for a return to the Baggy Green last summer but the left-hander's 2020-21 season is off to a better start
27 September 2020, 09:30 AM AEST
Entering his 10th first-class summer, Blues batter Kurtis Patterson says he is as hungry as ever to help NSW claim back-to-back Marsh Sheffield Shield titles and put his hand up for a Test recall.
Patterson will head to Adelaide next month for the start of the Shield competition following Cricket Australia's announcement on Wednesday that the first four rounds will be held in the South Australian capital due to the coronavirus pandemic.
The Blues' title defence begins on October 22 against Victoria, with Patterson in top form having peeled off a century in NSW's intra-squad trial match this week in Blacktown.
The left-hander missed 14 weeks of the 2019-20 summer with a quad injury, returning late in the Blues' championship season which was cut short by the COVID-19 outbreak.
Having spent the preseason focusing on his physical and mental wellbeing and fine-tuning his game, Patterson is ready for first-class season No.10.
"I'm really hungry for what should be a good first half of the year," Patterson told cricket.com.au.
"I've worked on adding a few more scoring options on the leg-side and topping-up my work around the mental side of the game, working on mindsets and nailing my routines – they have been the big priorities.
"It's been nice in a way to have that time at home and settle in with the Blues boys and get to know a few of the younger guys better.
"If we needed to play tomorrow we'd be ready to go.
"The challenge for a lot of us in the group is to maintain the hunger of where we're at and the intensity and channel that when round one starts."
It was November 2011 when 18-year-old Patterson rewrote history as the youngest batter to score a Shield century. His 157 on debut contributed to NSW's six-wicket win over Western Australia in Sydney.
Since then he has played a further 70 first-class matches, two of those Test matches for Australia in 2019, where he scored a maiden Test hundred in just his second game in the Baggy Green.
Patterson says the batter that debuted in spectacular fashion nine years ago is vastly different from the one who takes guard in 2020.
"I'm pretty much a different person to who I was back then," he said.
"I was very young and raw, like a lot of the players coming into the Blues squad now, especially the young batters.
"Until I was about 21, I only had three shots – a flick off my hip for a single, a cover drive and a square drive and that was about it.
"I've certainly got a lot more scoring options now and I'd like to think I'm a lot more mature than I was then. That's probably the big one.
"I still try and have as much fun as I can when I'm playing so that hasn't changed over the 10 years.
"I'm also the Blues vice-captain now, one of the senior players, and I try to and make the young players better and get them to understand it's about building a strong culture for years to come.
"Back then it was about going out there and trying to score as many runs as you can and that's where it ended."
But he admits there is one trait he wishes had stayed with him from his days as a raw, naïve No.6.
"One of the things I'd like to have from back then is that fearlessness you do have when you're young," he said.
"When you are young there's no prior demons and no doubts because the game back then was a lot more simple than it is now.
"That's something a lot of people can try and channel, to try and bring that simplicity back to the game because when I'm batting at my best things are quite simple.
"Trying to stay in that same headspace is the main challenge."
Keeping it simple is what Patterson intends to do when it comes to regaining his Test spot.
The returns of Steve Smith and David Warner after their bans in 2019 meant there would be casualties in Australia's batting order, and despite scoring a century in his most recent Test innings, Patterson and opener Joe Burns were forced out of the side for the Ashes.
Burns has since returned but Patterson's quad injury at the start of last summer cruelled his push for a return.
While playing for Australia again would be what he calls an "outcome goal", Patterson says his primary focus is putting runs on the board for whomever he is representing.
And that starts with the Blues in less than a month.
"I know there's always opportunities at the start of the summer if you can put your name up," Patterson said.
"Missing 14 weeks out of the season last year and missing a big chunk of what was a really successful year for NSW and the Scorchers as well, my main goal for these first four Shield games is to try and set the Blues up for a really big back end of the season and once it goes into Big Bash cricket it's about trying to perform as well as I can there.
"If Australian selection comes up than it's kind of a bonus.
"That was the headspace I was in a couple of years ago before I debuted for Australia and I think that's something to channel now because there's no real value in adding that extra layer of pressure if you start worrying about future sections or higher honours.
"It's about doing the best for the team you're in at the moment. I know that's what works for me."