Andrew McDonald is James Pattinson’s coach at Victoria.
He reveals how the express paceman managed to get back to Test level for another crack at winning the Ashes.
By Andrew McDonald
This last operation and injury he’s been through has probably been the hardest of the lot. But the way he approached it, despite the inevitable darker times he went through in private – when he probably thought he wouldn’t get back – was impressive.
James’s patience has been tested a lot of the years. But I think he’s really improved in that aspect of what he’s had to deal with.
He’s had to respect the fact that this was the last opportunity for him and that, if we didn’t get it right, there may have been the reality that there would be no cricket left for him.
His wife Kayla has been outstanding and the arrival of their baby, Lilah, has put a different perspective on things.
There are a number of things that have changed the James Pattinson of today compared to the one who came into the system.
He’s learnt so much along the way from various people. It all goes into the wash and creates what we saw in the first Test.
Those who have been through significant operations and injuries can empathise somewhat with what he was going through.
There’s always a small percentage of chance that you can get back and that’s what you have to hang your hope on. That’s what drives professional athletes, that small window that you can get back.
A huge amount of work has gone into getting James to this point, of bowling for Australia in an Ashes Test. But, ultimately, James should get the credit for doing the real hard work.
There were probably people along the way who said to him, ‘Look, this probably isn’t the best thing for you. Maybe it’s time to do something else with your life’.
But athletes always gravitate to the ones who give hope and the answer they want to hear to get back to doing what they love.
Pattinson’s path through New Zealand
He kept that hope, went off to New Zealand through a network that Shane Bond was connected with, sat down with medical teams, spoke to Cricket Victoria and Cricket Australia, and tabled all the possibilities.
There was no guarantee on the back of the operation but there was a hope that, if it went well, red-ball cricket was still on the table.
Sometimes your dreams don’t come true. There’s still a long way to go for James and the thing to remember is that he’s only just re-entered the fray.
It’s exciting, but our job as coaches and support staff is to help manage him along that road.
We don’t want him to just come into a Test series and replicate what he’s done in the past, where he’s had a significant impact in one or two Tests and then broken down again.
James could have quite easily not gone for that operation and just concentrated on white-ball cricket.
But he wanted to make sure he gave red-ball cricket one last crack and playing in the Ashes is a great reward for what he’s been through.