Australian pace bowler James Pattinson is aiming to build up strength ahead of a jam-packed cricketing summer in England as he makes his return from a long injury lay-off.
Pattinson last played for his country in 2016. He spent 15 months on the sidelines, during which he also underwent surgery to address recurring stress fractures in his back. With an away Ashes series on the horizon, the 27-year-old, who made his way back to the list of centrally contracted players, is as motivated as ever to get back to full fitness.
He made a successful return to cricket by winning the Sheffield Shield with Victoria, making headlines with a seven-wicket haul in the final. Now, he is looking to gather more momentum with a three-month stint at Nottinghamshire.
Speaking to ESPNcricinfo, he was excited for the early season with the Trent Bridge club, with whom he had a fleeting but memorable spell back in 2017, taking 32 wickets in five matches at an average of 12.06 with the red ball and playing a key role in their one-day cup triumph.
"It is about playing cricket and building up my strength and stamina," he said. "I didn't bowl a heap of overs in the Shield games – I think the most was 26 overs in a game. So the next step is to see how I cope with more overs and see how my body responds."
Pattinson made impressive starts to his Test and ODI careers: he has 15 caps in the shorter format and 17 in the five-day set-up. While he is hopeful of an Australia return, he is not getting carried away. "At the moment my back feels as good as it ever has," he said. "It is too early to be looking too far ahead but I feel it's promising times.
"I've just had a long flight and in the past after sitting around for so long it would be hard to get moving again and I would need two or three days just to loosen up. This time I've pulled up really well, but I haven't properly tested my back out fully yet to see what I can do and how many overs I can cope with.”
Pattinson's lengthy rehabilitation period did weigh heavily on his mind, and as he gears up for the early stages of the English county season, it is evident that he feels somewhat fortunate to still be playing the game that he loves. "There are always those doubts, but there are a few guys who have had the same thing before me and they have come out the other side okay and that helped me stay optimistic," he said.
"But coming here in the taxi from the airport it came into my mind that at one time I sometimes thought I might never get back here."
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