• Australia's troubled tour

Axed Pattinson eyes Ashes backlash

Brydon Coverdale
March 12, 2013 « Di Canio favourite to land Reading job | Chartbeat test »
James Pattinson: "It comes down to preparation for a Test, you can prepare in the nets ... but preparing off the field as well is just as important" © Getty Images
Enlarge

James Pattinson has conceded he did not take his axeing from the Test side well on Monday, but hopes the drastic measure will inspire Australia to beat England in the Ashes later this year.

Pattinson, Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Usman Khawaja were all told they would not be considered for the Mohali Test starting on Thursday due to their failure to complete a task on how they and the team could improve following the innings loss in Hyderabad.

After the decision was made by coach Mickey Arthur, captain Michael Clarke and team manager Gavin Dovey, Watson flew home to be with his pregnant wife but also said he would consider his future as a cricketer. Pattinson, Johnson and Khawaja remained with the squad and trained as usual on Tuesday, and they will be available for selection for the fourth Test in Delhi after serving their one-match penalty in Mohali.

"We had a training session yesterday and we apologised to the team about it," Pattinson said on Tuesday. "It does hurt, missing a Test match. It's not only that, you let your team down as well. At the time I was told I was quite upset. At the start I didn't take it as well as I probably could have. The easy thing for me was to make excuses and say it's a harsh punishment.

"But the reality is it's not - it's part of playing cricket for Australia. You've got to do everything right. It wasn't hard for the other 12 blokes to get it in on time and they took the time out to really reflect and do what's best for the team whereas we four didn't. Right now I'm still hurting about it but in the long run I think it's going to make us a better team."

Following the loss by an innings and 135 runs, the tenth biggest margin for an Australian defeat in Test history, Arthur asked every player in the squad to think about where they and the team had gone wrong and could improve. They were given four days to complete the task and while 12 did so by the Saturday night deadline, four had still not by Monday morning.

"It was one of those things where I didn't put in 100% for the team," Pattinson said. "At this level you can't forget. It's pretty cut-throat and personally not good enough. It wasn't a hard task at all and it was something that was very valuable for the team going forward. It comes down to preparation for a Test, you can prepare in the nets and the batting, bowling and fielding but preparing off the field as well is just as important.

"It shows a lack of respect to the coach, the captain as well, and the rest of the team. I know if I was in their position, as a team member, I'd be quite disappointed in them for being a bit selfish. People talk about it as a harsh punishment but looking deeply into it you realise probably it's not. If you want to be part of the Australian cricket team you have to do everything right. It's not acceptable. I believe it's the right punishment. Everyone in the group needs to understand that this is the lengths we need to go to to be successful as a team."

On Monday, Clarke and Arthur were at pains to stress that their extreme decision was the result not only of the players failing to complete this task, but also because the squad in general had been lax over the course of the tour and an example needed to be made. The initial reaction from a number of former players was one of disbelief that four men would be left out due to what might have seemed a trivial oversight, but Pattinson said in a young playing group he understood the need to build a positive culture.

"They're entitled to their opinion and a lot of the players that are saying that were great players and they probably didn't have to deal with this stuff because they were in a period of time when they were on top of the world," Pattinson said. "We're in a different position. We're trying to build a culture. We've got a lot of young guys. I think other people are starting to come around a bit more and understand the reasons behind it.

"It's not massive things. A lot of people are saying it's just for not handing something in but it's more than that. It's little things like sometimes being late for something. You can give fines for that but that's only so much. You talk about being late to things, the worst thing is actually being excluded from something. Being excluded from the team, being excluded from playing a Test match. That's what hurts the most."

Australia will miss Watson in Mohali, the venue where he made his last Test century, but Pattinson will be arguably an even bigger loss on a pitch expected to offer more bounce for the fast men. Pattinson has taken eight wickets at 23.62 on this tour so far, twice as many wickets as any other Australian bowler, but he said the bigger picture for Australia was not just about this Mohali Test but about creating a strong team structure in the longer term.

"Hopefully we've got the talent to one day be a great team," Pattinson said. "We've got a huge period with the back-to-back Ashes that are going to be important. I think we must get these little niggling things out of the way now and send a message that come Ashes time we will be ready to go - and united as a group - to perform there, because the Ashes are massive for us and we are striving to get back against the Poms."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
Close