All James Pattinson needed to do to elicit a smile from cricket fans after his comeback match, in the Big Bash League, was to bowl with decent pace and finish the game uninjured.
He went three steps better, rattling the stumps of Jacques Kallis, Mike Hussey and Andrew McDonald with the new ball in a devastating opening spell that inspired Melbourne Renegades a first win of the season and underlined why he is being primed for a return to Tests.
The Thunder’s paltry score of 6-114 was reached in a canter by the Renegades, primarily thanks to a brisk 48 from 37 balls by captain Aaron Finch and Callum Ferguson’s composed 30 not out from 24. The eight-wicket win, with 37 balls to spare in front of a record non-derby home crowd of 22,018, snapped a streak of five consecutive losses by Victorian teams – the Stars account for three – to start the season.
South African great Kallis had grounds to think he was the victim of an early contender for ball of the tournament when he was comprehensively bowled by Mitch Starc at the weekend. On Tuesday night he received another searing yorker that made him look every one of his 39 years, departing for a second-ball duck.
Pattinson is primarily playing BBL because his national and Victorian coaches think it’s a good stop-gap measure to build up his match fitness until two-day club matches resume in January.
It is no disrespect to Kallis to say his wicket was of less importance of that of Hussey, who is also 39 but still boasts an intensity that players half his age would long for.
In Pattinson’s second over, in which he reached 146km/h with his tweaked bowling action, left-hander Hussey was undone for 10 trying to nudge into the off-side and getting an inside-edge that went off his body into his leg-stump. The right-armer then maintained his record of rattling the stumps in his final powerplay over when his former Victorian teammate McDonald tried to play him into the leg-side and was comprehensively bowled between bat and pad. It was only the second time in Australia domestic Twenty20s that a team’s top three have all been bowled, which underlined the significance of Pattinson’s penetration. Pattinson bowled his four overs in succession at the start. Just conceding 24 runs from them would have been acceptable on such a small ground, but his three key scalps made his contribution invaluable. By the eighth over Aiden Blizzard and Eoin Morgan were back on the sidelines, which robbed the Thunder of their last hitters.
The latter marked a sudden shift in mood from the Renegades, as from the previous delivery Ben Rohrer dropped a simple catch off Daniel Hughes, which got Morgan on strike.
Top-scorer Hughes (40 not out) and wicketkeeper Chris Hartley shared a 51-run partnership that stemmed the flow of wickets, although the prospect of a surge in runs evaporated as both are better suited to playing supporting roles, which showed in the partnership coming off 50 balls. It ended when Hartley’s bat got stuck in the turf as he chased a quick single and was caught short by Dwayne Bravo kicking the ball into the stumps in his follow through.
The Renegades’ other five bowlers on the night backed up Pattinson’s superb start by keeping their economy rate under seven per over. The likelihood of a home team victory strengthened when they scored 47 from their powerplay for the loss of only Matthew Wade for 20, bowled by a yorker from Dirk Nannes, a 38-year-old who has lost little of his pace.
That Finch looked back to his fluent-hit best was good news not just for the Renegades but also Australia ahead of the one-day World Cup. Finch’s first two boundaries were particularly impressive.
With the required run-rate of about 4.5 per over from the middle of the innings the home team focused more on not stumbling than they did on entertaining, excepting Andre Russell’s 16 not out from seven balls at the end.
The efforts of Pattinson at the start of the night ensured the spectators were not shortchanged by the mostly sedate conclusion to it. Team P W L NR T Pts NRR Sixers 431–60.005 Strikers 22—41.852 Scorchers 321–41.129 Hurricanes 211–21.065 Renegades 312–20.133 Thunder 312–2-0.259 Heat 211–2-1.375 Stars 3-3–0-2.098