Pat Cummins sung James Pattinson’s praises after day three of the Boxing Day Test.
Pat Cummins sung James Pattinson’s praises after day three of the Boxing Day Test.

Pattinson puts Kiwis to the sword

IF anyone knows the kind of hell James Pattinson has been through in the past four years, it's Pat Cummins.

Pattinson celebrated his home Test return with figures of 3-34 in the first innings, playing in just his third Boxing Day Test and first since 2015.

In the time since, Pattinson's body has almost seemed cursed. He struggled with back issues and even required surgery, before being struck down by a side strain last summer.

The 29-year-old finally returned with five wickets in two Tests in the Ashes, before getting his first Test back on home soil since 2015-16 this week.

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Cummins, of course, went down a similar path after his debut. He missed five-and-a-half years of Test cricket and too had to play the patient game before becoming the world's No.1 bowler.

"With (Pattinson) having back surgery were there. I don't really think there had been anyone in Australia that had done that before," Cummins said.

"It's a pretty long time frame between surgery and not only getting back but then Test cricket. You've got to be able to bowl 50 overs in a week.

"The patience he has shown, along with Cricket Victoria, he has had to say no to some Shield games to manage his loads.

"This was always his goal to get back to Test cricket. He has done that, and he is right at the top of his game."

Pattinson is without doubt one of Australia's premier quicks. He took five wickets in his second Test against New Zealand back in 2011, and maintains a first-class bowling average of just 22.90.

"When you speak to guys playing (Sheffield) Shield or County cricket, they speak of him as though he is one of the best bowlers in the world," Cummins said.

"We all know that, and for him to come out in front of his home fans and for everyone to see it on TV rather than in Shield cricket is great.

"I just absolutely love having him in the team, he is a competitor. He bowls at 145km/h. He gets up for the team and just nips the ball."

Australia's performance in Melbourne will likely save selectors from making a tough call come Sydney between their four in-form quicks.

Josh Hazlewood is still a chance of proving himself fit to return from a hamstring injury, but it is expected he won't be risked if Australia have already won the series.

"We speak a lot about this group of fast bowlers that we want to keep together," Cummins said.

"Someone like James is so good that even when he's not playing we want to manage him to make sure he is right if someone comes in.

"And we've still got guys like (Peter) Siddle, (Michael) Neser and Jhye Richardson. He was an absolute find last summer."