Exclusive: One-cap wonder Pattinson on THAT Headingley Test against the Proteas
22:37 GMT, 30 July 2012
Bolt from the blue: Pattinson was called up for his only Test four years ago
It was the selection that caused a sensation and ended up hastening the demise of Michael Vaughan as England captain. Now, four years after he was plucked from obscurity to appear on the biggest stage, Darren Pattinson can finally reflect on how he went from Melbourne club cricket to playing against South Africa at Headingley.
As England head to Leeds for their must-win date with South Africa this week it is inevitable that thoughts will turn to what remains the most controversial and derided pick that Geoff Miller’s England panel have made.
When Ryan Sidebottom was ruled out of the second Test against Graeme Smith’s team in 2008 it was widely expected that Chris Tremlett, the next bowler in line, would come in. Yet Miller and company made such a surprising move that Sportsmail’s back page headline read ‘England turn to Grimsby-born roof tiler.’
That man was a bemused Pattinson, English by birth but who had spent most of his life in Melbourne and a late developer who had only recently given up his job in the family tiling business to turn professional with Victoria and, then, Notts.
‘It all happened so quickly,’ Pattinson told Sportsmail. ‘It was all a bit surreal but I was pretty grateful to be given the opportunity and I’m proud now to be able to say I played Test cricket. I’ve had time to reflect on it and despite everything I look back on it positively.’
Stepping down: Michael Vaughan's resignation followed Pattinson's cap
It is hard to imagine Vaughan, Miller or anyone else involved looking back on the experience positively. Poor Pattinson, whose inclusion in the squad had been described as ‘merely a precaution’, found himself thrown into a political minefield when Paul Collingwood was left out of the England side on the morning of the match.
The England players, Vaughan said after a crushing and controversial 10-wicket defeat, had been ‘unsettled’ by Pattinson’s inclusion while the first cracks in the relationship between Peter Moores and senior players emerged when the coach said that it was Vaughan who had requested a bowler like Pattinson, not him.
Pattinson was in the middle of it all. ‘The England guys were really good to me,’ he insisted. ‘There were no problems with them at all. I got a phone call out of the blue from Geoff Miller the day before the match asking me to report and saying there was a good chance I was playing. I didn’t get to the team hotel until 11pm. I had been due to take my family to Alton Towers that day but that went out of the window. We’ve been plenty of times since, mind. Next day I was playing in a Test.’
It did not go well. England were bowled out cheaply by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel – where have we heard that before – and then conditions changed at Headingley and England were on the end of a fearful thumping. The new boy, just short of his 29th birthday, bowled respectably but struggled to make a huge impact and ended with two for 95.
Flat out: Pattinson took 2-95 as England lost by 10 wickets
‘I still couldn’t believe it was happening,’ Pattinson recalled. ‘I hadn’t prepared for it at all. There were a lot of nerves but I did okay. The main stumbling block was that the sun came out when we were bowling. Still, I got Hashim Amla and Ashwell Prince out and I went on to play with both of them at Notts so that was nice.’
How England would like to find someone, anyone, who could have got Amla out at the Kia Oval last week!
The aftermath was ugly but Pattinson defends his right to have been called up. ‘I’ve never felt Australian and there was never any question of me playing for Australia,’ he says in his soft Melbourne accent. ‘I was born in England, have an English passport and two very proud English parents. I grew up watching Manchester United on TV and supporting England at cricket.
‘I had only played a handful of games for Victoria when I got the chance to play for Notts and I was enjoying my opportunity in county cricket. My priority was trying to get a new contract at Trent Bridge and international cricket had never entered my mind. I jumped at the chance to play for England. Who wouldn’t And I don’t have any regrets about it.’
Pattinson’s Australian wife, however, found the whole business difficult to handle and the end of her husband’s short international career came quickly.
Prize scalp: Pattinson is mobbed after taking Hashim Amla's wicket
‘The scrutiny was hard on my family,’ said Pattinson. ‘I had a chat with Geoff Miller afterwards when he wanted me to go on a Lions tour but by that stage we had decided to go back to Australia that winter. If I had been given a second Test maybe things would have been different but once I said no to the Lions that was it. Geoff was very understanding about it and we parted on good terms.’
Yet the Pattinson name lives on in the form of his younger brother James who is now one of the best fast bowling prospects in Australia. The pair are now the first brothers to have played Test cricket for different countries in more than a century.
‘It was different for James,’ said his big brother who is perhaps in his last year with Notts having signed for the Melbourne Renegades this winter as a domestic player. ‘He is 10 years younger than me and was born in Australia. He has never had split loyalties. He’s not there yet as a fast bowler but he has a lot of potential.’
Pattinson junior is expected back in England next year as part of Australia’s Ashes challenge. Who will Darren support ‘Oh I really don’t mind who wins but my dad will still be supporting England, that’s for sure,’ he said diplomatically. ‘We just all want to see James doing well.’