REUTERS – James Pattinson will replace fellow quick Mitchell Starc in the Australia team for this week’s opening test against West Indies, captain Steve Smith said on Wednesday, reviving a promising career that had stalled because of injury.
Pattinson, who played his last test in March 2014, was preferred to Nathan Coulter-Nile and joins Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle in the pace attack at Bellerive Oval in Hobart, where the three-match series starts on Thursday.
Starc will miss the series after sustaining an ankle injury during the recent 2-0 win over New Zealand, further depleting Australia’s pace bowling stocks after the retirements of Mitchell Johnson and Ryan Harris.
Injuries have restricted Pattinson to 13 tests in the four years since his debut but he has taken three five-wicket hauls in that time, including 5-51 against New Zealand at Hobart in 2011.
The 25-year-old right-armer was a surprise call-up to the squad for the day-night test in Adelaide but missed out when Siddle was preferred.
His Victoria coach David Saker questioned whether Pattinson’s body was up to the rigours of test cricket after playing so little since returning from his latest back problem, but Smith was not concerned.
“I think he has played enough, he has been bowling really well, he deserves an opportunity,” Smith said.
“I think he just needs to go out there and do what he does well — that’s bowl fast, swing the ball and get it up there and get it moving
“He is similar to Hazlewood the way he bowls. Hopefully he can have a successful comeback into the test team.”
Uncapped Coulter-Nile’s best hopes of a spot in the side for Hobart had rested on Hazlewood being given a break after playing all three tests against New Zealand.
The 24-year-old Hazlewood said on Tuesday he wanted to play all three tests in the series, however, and selectors have given him a chance to lead the pace attack in the absence of Starc.
Smith also confirmed that all-rounder Mitchell Marsh, who struggled for runs against New Zealand, would remain at number six in the batting order ahead of wicketkeeper Peter Nevill.
“He’s there to do a job, to score runs for the team,” Smith said. “Hopefully he’ll come out and play his natural game and get a few runs for us this time.”
Team: Steve Smith (captain), David Warner, Joe Burns, Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh, Mitchell Marsh, Peter Nevill, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon
(Reporting by Nick Mulvenney, editing by Peter Rutherford/John O’Brien)