JAMES Pattinson has put his name firmly in the Ashes conversation thanks to a fiery five-wicket haul that propelled Victoria, featuring Nowra's Nic Maddinson, to a stunning Sheffield Shield victory over NSW, who crumbled to be all out for 102 in pursuit of 166.
The 28-year-old’s figures of 5-25 off 12 overs not only helped Victoria secure a home final in two weeks’ time but sent a timely message to Australian selectors that he is working up towards his devastating best.
Pattinson bowled with serious pace at Drummoyne Oval on Thursday to remove four of the Blues’ top seven batsmen on a horror day for the home side, who could miss out on qualifying for the final should they lose their next game to Tasmania.
“It’s a pretty deflating loss, that,” said Blues captain Peter Nevill, who made two stoic unbeaten scores of 33 and 26. “If we had have been able to take the game deeper, we saw at the end there it was getting easier.”
While the Blues will lick their wounds, Pattinson is keen to send down more uncomfortable spells of bowling as he works towards his goal of being picked on the upcoming Australia A tour that precedes the Ashes.
“It’s always been a long-term goal,” said Pattinson of featuring in the upcoming Ashes series. “It’s my first game back though and I don’t want to think too far ahead.
“There is an A tour as well, so that would be my goal to try and maybe possibly get picked on that and just play as much cricket as I can over there. It’s just great to be back playing Shield cricket. We always thought we were a chance by getting a 160-run lead and the boys bowled really well.”
After wrapping up the tail and dismissing Victoria for 194, the Blues’ run chase could barely have got off to a worse start as Dan Hughes, Nick Larkin and Moises Henriques were all knocked over for ducks.
The Blues were in serious trouble at 3-8 and their woes continued as Kurtis Patterson (10), Jason Sangha (6) and Jack Edwards (12) all perished in quick succession, NSW limping to 8-49 in the 24th over.
They did eclipse their lowest ever Shield total (53) but when Pattinson claimed his fifth scalp by removing Greg West, the Blues looked dead and buried at 9-54.
Nevill and No.11 O'Keefe (25) put on 48 for the 10th wicket and edged past 100 but Scott Boland (2-20) wrapped up a brilliant team bowling performance.
After reducing Victoria to 9-82 to in the first innings, NSW will be shattered they were unable to take control of the game and chalk up a victory against the competition leaders on a better pitch than the scorebook suggested.
“I thought it was a decent wicket,” Nevill said. “You had the odd ball that was doing a little bit and there was variable bounce but there wasn’t a great deal of turn and there wasn’t anything silly going on.”
Said Pattinson of the pitch: “There was a bit of seam movement. It was a bit soft at the start of play on the first day and there was a few divots in there so if you hit them, it’d take off. When it’s seaming and swinging it’s quite tough to bat.”
Despite the result, Blues seamer Harry Conway was named man-of-the-match after taking 9-64.
“It’s great to see him dominate a game,” Nevill said.