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Pattinson emerges a special pace commodity for Australia

India wrecker James Pattinson has emerged a special pace commodity for Australia

James Pattinson and Glenn McGrath were standing side-by-side, sharing a light moment, so similar in stature, like brothers-in-arms, here at the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) on the first day of the year.  It was a sight that must have sent a chill down the spine of an Australian cricket lover -- a legend was passing the torch to a wunderkind. "I doubt if I was as good as he is at his age. I definitely couldn't bowl so fast," a modest McGrath told MiD DAY when asked if he felt Pattinson would be to Michael Clarke, what he was to Steve Waugh and Dennis Lillee to Greg Chappell.


James Pattinson. Pic/Getty Images

Pattinson went into the Sydney Test against India with two man-of-the-match awards and 20 wickets from just three Tests. He has assumed the lead role in the embryonic stages of Clarke's regime. Yesterday, he bit his teeth in fury when India opener Virender Sehwag continually played and missed at him. Sehwag showed no respect by flaying at full balls that shaped away. The young Victorian was even more agitated when Sehwag, with no footwork, slapped him over cover for a four. Sehwag was playing his game, unsightly and reckless. But, Pattinson stuck to his guns.

In his seventh over, he finally drove Sehwag into poking at a full one. Pattinson's exuberant reaction told the story. He knew that there was justice in the world. He finished with figures of 4-43 as India were bowled out for 191. Pattinson knows that he is currently the toast of Australia, but would remain grounded, felt club (and maiden) coach Brendan McArdle. "He will not get carried away with the spotlight and fame. He knows that wickets won't always come this easy. There will be setbacks.

"He is ready to face them. His attitude is what we all, old friends and club members, love so much. He rang me and sought my views after his debut Test against New Zealand, even after taking six wickets," McArdle, a former Victoria pacer, told MiD DAY yesterday.

Pattinson was 13 when he joined Dandenong Cricket Club. "His brother (Darren) and Peter Siddle were already playing for the club. James was just hanging out there. It was only when he was 16 when we picked him in the first XI of the club. He always had it in him, but it was David Saker (former Victoria and current England bowling coach) who turned him into a finished product," he said.

Pattinson's silky-smooth run-up and delivery stride has earned many fans. "When he was at the club, there was a higher jump in his delivery stride. His head also pointed a little down while delivering the ball, but Saker worked on him. The beautiful action you see today is thanks to Saker," said McArdle.

"Even before this Test series (against India) started, Pattinson sought Saker's advice," he added. Pattinson hasn't played a game for his club this year, but takes time to visit it frequently. "He and Siddle won us a tournament last March, but after that he's been busy playing for Australia."

McArdle felt that it was a blessing in disguise for Pattinson to get injured before last year's Bangalore Test when he was tipped to earn the Baggy Green for the first time. "We all were eagerly awaiting Test debut. In October 2010, he was set to do that in India, but got injured at the wrong time.

Thus, Peter George got the nod. In hindsight, it was good that he didn't make his debut there. His career could have gone elsewhere -- he might have conceded lot of runs on flat Indian pitches. It was good for him to make his debut here in Australia," he said.

Big brother, big influence
James' older brother Darren was a big influence. "James was always chasing his brother Darren -- who is a very aggressive bowler himself. He used to watch his brother at the nets and try to be like him. Today he's his own man," McArdle added.

Luckily for Australia, James was born here unlike his brother Darren. "James was born in Australia but his parents migrated back-and-forth from here to England. When he was five, they were back permanently in Victoria. Otherwise, England would have nabbed him too," he joked.

Darren played his only Test for England in 2008. The only other siblings to have played Test cricket for different nations are the Hearne brothers. Alec and George played for England, while Frank played for South Africa in the late 19th century.

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