I’M ARMED AND DANGEROUS!
Aussie paceman Pattinson has Big Ben tattoo and says it’s time to strike against England
James Pattinson is the fast bowler with his heart in australia’s quest to retain the ashes but with his heritage on his sleeve.
on thursday, he is expected to play against england, the land of his father John and for whom elder brother Darren made one test appearance. His last ashes test was six years ago and in the interim he has added an image of Big Ben to the tattoo montage that adorns his left arm.
‘When i was young i just loved it. me and Dad used to get the bus tour around London and it was always one of my favourites things to do,’ said the 29-year-old.
‘my favourite sportsman growing up was David Beckham because Dad made me watch the england football team all the time. When Beckham had that dyed mohawk, i got one too.’
Pattinson refuses to forget his family’s roots, having returned annually to Lincolnshire since childhood to visit aunts and uncles. He still follows Grimsby town and took in their League two match against notts County in april during his most recent stint as nottinghamshire’s overseas player. ‘i went on my own. it was freezing cold and we lost.’
For him, despite supporting england at football as a kid, there are none of the split loyalties still faced by Pattinson senior when international cricket’s fiercest rivals meet.
‘When i started playing for australia, he still went for england, and i was like, “You can’t do that”. He might be 51-49 australia now but he’s still got a soft spot for england. Hopefully when i’m playing, he will be supporting me.’
Darren’s 15 minutes on the international scene came in defeat against south africa at Headingley in 2008 and James said: ‘i am not sure he enjoyed it too much. it’s a weird situation and pretty special. not many brothers have played for different countries.’
For Pattinson (right) to resume a test career following a hiatus of more than three years will represent a major triumph. He had a radical operation in november 2017 on an area of his back he had fractured four times.
‘there’s a bit of titanium in there, although i don’t beep when i go through the scanners at the airport,’ he said. ‘they put a couple of screws and a few wires in there just to try to have a bit of reinforcement. ‘i was at the end of my tether, thinking, “i need to try something different”. We went down the route to get surgery and it’s been a long process coming back. the first few months i was sore and stiff. i just had to restart my body with basic things like stretching, and it was close to eight months before i played a match. ‘so it’s great to be back in the australia squad. i made my debut eight years ago so it’s been a while. i haven’t played too many tests, although it looks like i have when you see my baggy green. it was tucked away for a fair while, so to be putting it back on, even just for photo shoots, is pretty exciting.’
the chances of him pulling that cap on at edgbaston on thursday have been improving weekly and those who saw his performance in the internal trial match in southampton last week have him marked down as one of the first names on the team sheet.
He is certainly peaking at the right time, having bowled with Jofra archer-type speed and Glenn mcGrath-style accuracy just days after taking seven for 77 in a crushing tour win over sussex.
For this, he credits more english friends — those at trent Bridge who re- signed him two years after he bagged 32 scalps in five Championship appearances.
‘i have had three and a half months over here now and i have ironed out a few things. When i first came over there were one or two bad balls an over,’ says a man set to break apart the aussies’ 2017- 18 pace triumvirate of mitchell starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins.
‘my consistency is really good but the big thing was getting through a game of 40 overs because it was the first time i had done it since my surgery. it’s good to know i could do that because playing test cricket you will get called upon to bowl that many. i now have great confidence that my body could do that. County cricket exposed me to bowling a number of overs that i hadn’t previously completed.
‘there’s been talk of it being a bowler-friendly ashes but we are definitely not expecting that. We are expecting tough work and thinking we will have to bowl a lot of overs, and hit good areas over and over to take 20 wickets.’