Skipper Steve Smith backed James Pattinson to deliver the “X-factor” as he makes his return to Test cricket leading Australia’s attack in the first Test against West Indies from Thursday.
Injury-plagued Pattinson, who played the last of his 13 Tests against South Africa in March 2014, got the nod ahead of Nathan Coulter-Nile to replace Mitchell Starc, who is out with a stress fracture in his foot.
He will join Josh Hazlewood, man-of-the-match in the Adelaide day-night Test against New Zealand, and Peter Siddle in the new-ball attack, backed up by all-rounder Mitch Marsh.
“Patto’s a quality bowler. He bowls at 150kph (93 mph) when he’s got everything together,” Smith said in Hobart in announcing the team Wednesday.
“So he brings that kind of X-factor to the team. He’s got a lot of aggression he’s not afraid to show, which I think is a great attribute.
“He just needs to go out and do what he does well. He is similar to Hazlewood the way he bowls. Hopefully those two can lead the attack well. Hopefully, he can have a successful comeback into the Australian team.”
The first Test in Hobart is a fresh start for Pattinson, who has recovered from chronic back and hamstring issues to force his way back into the side.
But there was no place in the 11 for Western Australia quick Coulter-Nile, who was included in the initial 12-man squad despite not playing any domestic Sheffield Shield matches so far this summer because of a shoulder injury, sparking criticism.
“He’s been working extremely hard. He’s bowling extremely fast. I was facing him in the nets over the last couple of days,” Smith said.
“I’m not worried about him. I am sure he’s going to be around the squad this summer and he’ll get an opportunity to play at some point.”
– ‘Can’t take them lightly’ -Smith said his team was not taking anything out of the West Indies’ poor lead-in to the Hobart Test when they lost to a rookie Cricket Australia XI by 10 wickets in Brisbane last weekend.
“We want to win this series 3-0. I wouldn’t read too much in the way the tour match went for the West Indies,” he said.
“The West Indies have some quality bowlers in their attack, led by Jerome Taylor.
“I think he’s a great fast bowler so we can’t take them lightly and we have to play each ball on its merits and hopefully get a big first innings score and set the match up.”
The Bellerive wicket had a greenish tinge on the eve of the Test, indicating that the pace bowlers will get some early life out of the pitch.
“There is a little bit of grass on it, so I think the seamers will get a bit out of it and I think the batters will have to step up,” Smith said.
Australia’s thrilling seven-run loss to New Zealand four years ago is the home team’s only defeat in 11 Tests played at the Bellerive ground.
The Windies lost their only Hobart Test match by nine wickets 10 years ago after being bowled out for 149, with Glenn McGrath getting four wickets and Brett Lee three.
Australia – David Warner, Joe Burns, Steve Smith (capt), Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitch Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon
12th man: Nathan Coulter-Nile