Boxing Day Test 2019 | James Pattinson’s preparation hits unlikely snag


Victoria’s bowling coach Mick Lewis, injured quick Scott Boland and wicketkeeper Seb Gotch were among the contingent who had to hastily make new arrangements.

James Pattinson in the nets at Junction Oval. Credit:Justin McManus

Pattinson has missed Australia’s past five Tests, having not worn the baggy green since the memorable Headingley Test in the Ashes where Ben Stokes stole victory for England with an epic century.

However, coach and selector Justin Langer confirmed on Saturday the Victorian will fill the vacant berth vacated by the injured Josh Hazlewood. This will leave either Peter Siddle or Michael Neser as 12th man.

“I am really looking forward to seeing Patto bowl and bowl well in this Boxing Day Test, which is his home ground as well,” Langer told 6PR in Perth.

“I hope what I have shown has in the last 18 months is that we have been really consistent in our selection. James Pattinson was 12th man (in Perth) and he’s been unlucky, he only played a couple of Tests in the Ashes. He is so hungry like Mitchell Starc.”

Replete in his Victorian gear, Pattinson bowled off his full run at the Junction Oval, his pace and bounce testing Gotch. He worked up a sweat over more than 45 minutes before putting the pads on and taking throw downs from McDonald, his former Victorian coach.

Pattinson clearly enjoys bowling to the Kiwis, against whom he has taken 20 wickets from three games at a miserly 17.7.

James Pattinson takes aim.

James Pattinson takes aim. Credit:Justin McManus.

“He’s a good bowler, runs in hard, brings aggression, bashes the wicket. We won’t expect anything less,” Kiwi wicketkeeper BJ Watling said on Saturday.

Pattinson has played in two Boxing Day Tests but his last was against the West Indies in 2015.

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Black Caps paceman Trent Boult trained strongly again and is poised to make his return on Boxing Day after missing the series opener in Perth due to injury.

The left-armer, fourth on New Zealand’s wicket-takers’ list, has not played since straining his side a month ago against England but there is talk he may be able to bowl for the Victorian XI on Sunday in what is effectively glorified centre-wicket practice.

“Trent was bowling really well in the nets. I nicked off a couple of times. He’s looking fresh, fit, fingers crossed in five days he’s ready to go,” Watling said.

“The experience he’s got, what he brings to the group is exceptional. You always want a guy like that in your team. So it’d be great to have him back for this game.”

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There is speculation the Black Caps may shift Watling from his customary position at No.6, where he has dominated this year, averaging 96.6 in six innings, to the top of the order to replace out-of-form opener Jeet Raval. This would allow back-up gloveman Tom Blundell, who will come into the XI if Raval is dropped, to bat in the middle order.

It would be a big gamble as Watling, who has experience opening at Test level, is much better suited in the middle order, is the superior wicketkeeper to Blundell and may have to give up the gloves if batting higher up.

The Australian squad will arrive in Melbourne on Sunday and train on Monday, when players and coaches will have their first look at a pitch that had a heavy grass cover on Saturday. Melbourne Cricket Club officials and Cricket Australia are under pressure to ensure the surface provides encouragement for batsmen and bowlers, having been heavily criticised over the past two Boxing Day Tests.

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