Marsh Sheffield Shield 2019-20
Patterson pushes past Ashes pain to re-start Test quest
Left-hander reflects on the disappointment of his winter in the UK as he prepares for his first match of the 2019-20 Shield season
17 October 2019, 10:00 PM AEST
Kurtis Patterson enters the race for a spot in Australia's Test top six this week with a burning hunger to once again don the Baggy Green.
Patterson played two Tests against Sri Lanka at the back end of the 2018-19 summer having forced his way into the team on the back of a glut of centuries. But an Australia A tour of England during the winter didn't yield the results necessary to put him in the Ashes frame.
Patterson had only played eight weeks of club-level cricket in the UK previously, and found the going tough against the red Dukes ball, with scores of 4, 32, 38, 2 and 0 before the Ashes squad was picked.
"I just didn't take my chances on reflection," a forthright Patterson, who will play his first Marsh Sheffield Shield match of the season this week, told cricket.com.au.
"I had a couple of really good opportunities against the (England) Lions, I got in both times and unfortunately just got out.
"I picked up some good learnings around the differences in playing in England, the reality of how late you have to play the ball and just a smaller margin for error you have over there as a batter.
"But I'm really looking forward to next opportunity over there because I'll be much better for the experience."
Those twin scores in the 30s against England's second XI at Canterbury are where Patterson's Ashes dream slipped away, with Travis Head and Matthew Wade both scoring centuries.
And even though he knew the axe was coming, it still stung.
"You never like getting dropped from any team, let alone the Australian team," the 26-year-old left-hander says.
"I could read between the lines before the (selection) meeting happened; I missed out, didn't take the opportunities I had and knew I needed to score runs on that tour to put my name up for selection.
"I wasn't wildly disappointed because I could see the writing on the wall, but certainly it fuelled a bit of the hunger to start the season well."
He returns to the NSW Blues for this week's Shield clash with Tasmania back to full fitness after a quadriceps injury kept him from the opening-round win against Queensland.
Patterson's last Test knock saw him score a maiden century against Sri Lanka in Canberra and while he says that knock in February means little in terms of selection for the coming Domain Test series against Pakistan, it does give Patterson a high degree confidence.
"Now that I've had that Test experience and I've been able to score a hundred early in my career, that will put me in good stead," he says.
"A lot of players say getting that monkey off the back can be quite difficult, so I'm glad it's off in a sense."
The phrase "monkey off the back" is one Patterson has had to confront previously. He scored 157 on his Sheffield Shield debut in November 2011, but then found centuries difficult to come by. In his next 100 first-class innings, he scored 26 fifties and only pressed on to triple figures five times.
After a long drought, he finally broke through in a Shield match against Western Australia last November, an innings that he still rates as "personally my most satisfying hundred".
It sparked a run of form that saw him pile up twin tons for Australia A in a match against the touring Sri Lankans in Hobart, and his banging on the door was answered by the Australia selectors with a late call-up.
The purple patch continued when in just his second Test, and second Test innings, he peeled off an unbeaten 114.
It was a perfect day; coming to the crease at 4-336, the opposition were ripe for the taking to make as gentle an introduction as Test cricket can allow, a concentration lapse on his first ball went unpunished when a catch was put down, and the tall left-hander swivelled into pull shot after pull shot as he was fed a steady diet of short-pitched deliveries.
The memory will keep that fire burning as he restarts his bid to dust off the Baggy Green at Drummoyne Oval, the NSW Blues having been forced to move their Shield clash with Tasmania away from the Sydney Cricket Ground with the surface unfit for cricket following a recent visit from a rugby league team.
While there had been much excitement about Shield cricket returning to the SCG, a star-studded NSW team will keep their focus on securing a second win of the season, even with several members of the side eyeing the Gabba Test.
"I'm just really wanting to get out there and score big hundreds for NSW and let the rest take care of itself hopefully," Patterson said.
"I've learned over the years the more I think about future selections for different teams, generally speaking, the worse my performances are.
"I'm pretty good now at just getting locked in on playing for NSW or whatever team I'm in, and just trying to win those games and score big runs and have faith that the rest of the stuff will take care of itself."
NSW will host Tasmania in the Marsh Sheffield Shield at Drummoyne Oval from 10.30am AEDT from Friday, October 17 with a free live stream via cricket.com.au and the CA Live app, including Apple TV
NSW squad: Peter Nevill (c), Sean Abbott, Harry Conway, Trent Copeland, Moises Henriques, Daniel Hughes, Nick Larkin, Nathan Lyon, Stephen O'Keefe, Kurtis Patterson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner.
Tasmania squad: Matthew Wade (c), George Bailey, Alex Doolan, Jarrod Freeman, Caleb Jewell, Ben McDermott, Riley Meredith, Lawrence Neil-Smith, Tim Paine, Alex Pyecroft, Sam Rainbird, Clive Rose, Jordan Silk, Beau Webster.