Melbourne Renegades pace bowler James Pattinson spent months overhauling his action to prevent his career being curtailed by back injuries – and he returned on Tuesday to rip the steel out of the Sydney Thunder batting line-up’s spine.
Pattinson and a pitch that was going to be tough for the team that batted first on it formed an unholy alliance for the Thunder.
He opened the bowling at Etihad Stadium and, with the final delivery of his first over, Pattinson sent South African superstar Jacques Kallis packing for a two-ball duck when the ball uprooted his off-stump.
In his second over Pattinson – who played a few games of grade to prepare – dismissed the Thunders’ other heavyweight, Michael Hussey, for 10. He danced with delight as the skipper’s inside edge rocketed between his bat and pad before crashing into his leg stump.
Former Australia all-rounder Andrew McDonald was dispatched to stop the rot. He managed 11 runs before the Pattinson express unleashed an inswinger to finish him off … bowled.
It was breath-taking and, with the visitors on the ropes, Renegades captain Aaron Finch sooled Pattinson, like an attack dog, for one more over. He tormented the men in lime green but went wicketless. He had captured 3-24, though, and the Thunder would not recover from his spell.
“Definitely plenty of nerves, I haven’t played for a long while,” Pattinson told the host broadcaster Channel Ten. “But I was just excited to get out here and do something I love.”
Hussey noticed Pattinson’s pre-match nerves but said the former Test bowler needed very little time to overcome them.
“He bowled beautifully,his three early wickets put us on the back foot,” he said. “I did detect a few changes in his action as well, so he’s obviously been working very hard on that.
“When he tried to swing the ball the seam was perfectly upright and in the perfect position for the out-swinger and that was a very good sign. He looked like he was getting a little bit more side-on than he has done in the past, he was rocking that shoulder around a bit more – before he seemed a bit more front-on.
Aiden Blizzard, who fought a savage but ultimately fruitless rearguard action in the Thunders’ last-match loss to the Sixers, tried to repeat his heroics. But he was contained by the Renegades’ smart attack before being caught by Matthew Short off West Indian Andre Russell for 11.
Eoin Morgan came and went quickly, caught by Callum Ferguson off the Jamaican’s bowling, and the Thunder were 5-47.
After losing the toss and being sent into bat first Hussey noted the impact the “two-paced” pitch had on the Thunder’s effort.
“It reminded me a lot of last year, actually,” he said. “It seemed in the first half it was a bit two-paced and then it ‘skip-on a bit more in the second-half [of the game]. They [Renegades] struggled batting first last year and we founf it easy in the second half . . . it was certainly tough batting first and they found it easy.”
Daniel Hughes and Chris Hartley worked hard to set a decent target but their partnership was ended by Dwayne Bravo’s footwork. He kicked the ball soccer-style into the stumps to catch Hartley short. Hughes made a fighting 40 to help the Thunder set 115 for victory – and the Renegades’ openers Finch and Matthew Wade did their best to mow them down.
The Renegades had rocketed to 36 in the fourth over before Wade fell, bowled by Dirk Nannes, in the for 20. Finch and Ferguson joined forces in a smart partnership to take the game away from the Thunder. Former Test spin bowler Nathan Hauritz was introduced and after being hit for 14 off his first five balls, he ended Finch’s 37-ball innings when he was on 48.
Pat Cummins was brought on to try to delay the inevitable but Ferguson and Russell put him to the sword and the Renegades chalked up an eight-wicket win.
Daniel Lane stayed in Melbourne courtesy of TFE Hotels, a Sydney Thunder sponsor.