I Now Know What I Need To Do For My Body To Feel Well And To Lead To The Highest Level: Pattinson > Cricket News, cricinfo, mobilecric, cricbuzz, livescore and more
Cricket news - I know now what I need to do for my body to feel good and perform at the highest level: Pattinson
Even as the national team continues to stack up ODI wins in Asia and Steve Smith and David Warner get closer to their returns, the one name that's been grabbing headlines back home is James Pattinson. The 28-year-old tearaway, who last played a Test in 2016, has been running in at full tilt spell after spell for Victoria and taking wickets along the way on his return to first-class cricket after a 15-month hiatus owing to the latest injury setback of his career. Fresh from surgery, and refreshed following the lengthy break from cricket, Pattinson is now eying a spot in the Ashes squad later this year. In an exclusive chat with Cricbuzz in Adelaide, he talks about finally knowing exactly what he needs to do for his body to feel good and perform at the highest level, the highs and stresses of being a fast bowler at international level, having enjoyed not "living like a cricketer" during his recovery period, which included training greyhounds and fishing, and how he now carries a diary around to pen down thoughts that make him happy.
The name James Pattinson, unfortunately, gets associated incessantly with injuries. Have you reached a stage where you get annoyed when people ask about your fitness?
I suppose it's frustrating that people say, "he's always injured". I know the way I bowl and the way I play my cricket, I'm going to get injuries at times, and obviously not being blessed with a really good back hurts. I don't really care about what other people think or say. All I can do is try my best. I'm pretty happy after going through some pretty major surgery and major setbacks that I'm out here now playing first-class cricket again.
Now the surgery is out of the way, and you are running in, bowling quick and taking wickets. Does it feel like the start of a new chapter or is it more like you're back to where you were at your best?
I'm probably more at a point where for me to get back in and play first-class cricket after having such a big operation is something that I can look back at and say I'm proud of myself. You then move on to the next part, which is work on past experiences to try and keep fit and stay strong. Then there's the performance side too. For me, the hardest part has been staying fit. For, when I've played, I've generally done pretty well. That's been a frustrating thing as well, knowing that when you're in the team, you can add some value. And you think I could have played so many Tests by now if I wasn't injured all the time. Then you look past that and work out that there's still time and look to the future. In cricket, it can turn around pretty quickly.
You had spoken at the start of the season of playing in the 2019 Ashes as being your goal. Is it looking like a reality now?
It's getting closer obviously but all I can do is keep working on what I'm doing and staying fit and putting in performances. I just want to do my best for Victoria at the moment with the Shield final next week. I know it's a cliche that some people look past sometimes. But it's about pushing through one game and then recovering, and then moving on to the next game. I will get myself to England in some shape (Pattinson has since signed up with Nottinghamshire) and there's the A tour. I want to finish strongly with Victoria. I am focusing on week-to-week kind of goals. When you're injured, there're times you can look too far ahead. They are the times where you miss what's happening in the now, and 2-3 weeks go by, and you are a bit behind. The best way is if you can really work on your goals for the week and tick them off and then move on.
When you're on the field, do you consciously have to keep the injury and back out of your mind at the top of the mark?
There're always times you need to be wary of your body and listen to it. You might feel something some times and think what's that? And that brings a bit of anxiety and doubt. I'm at that stage where I've had enough setbacks to know what you need to do for your body to feel good and make it perform at the highest level. The one positive from having injuries is it makes you have to do your rehab. I have to do this otherwise I could get injured again. When you're young, you feel like a million bucks and invincible and think I don't need to do it. I think it's a learning curve for fast bowlers through your mid-20s. If you can understand what you need to do for your body and then do it, you can really flourish.
At the top of your game, you were dismissing some of the best players in the world. What was the high of international cricket for you and what do you miss about it?
It is a high but it is also a stressful environment. Sometimes you want to step away from it and take a big, deep breath. I think that's why it's tough to play all year round now, especially for batters. You are on edge a lot. You are thinking about the game every minute of the day. There's a lot that goes into it that you can't see from the outside. There is a lot of enjoyment that comes with it, but sometimes at the end of the game you think, "ahh..it's a relief that it's over". It was weird. Even when things are going well, there are times you feel like you want to breathe and let go a little bit. It's the sort of environment you're in. Having said that, it's a great experience to represent your country and the thrill you get out of it is something you don't get anywhere else. Growing up as the exuberant person I am, getting that high and euphoria from playing cricket and taking wickets and getting wins, is the adrenaline rush I missed while being injured. I was very lucky to play Test cricket at a young age against some great opponents like Sachin Tendulkar. At that moment, you don't think about it. But later when you talk to your friends about playing with the likes of Ricky Ponting, it feels special.
Are you in a better place to deal with that stressful environment now?
I deal with it pretty well. I manage the expectations pretty well. But when it's always there, it's not sustainable. When you do get a bit of a break, that's why it's good to let your hair down and take a deep breath. Everyone goes through it in cricket. It's cut-throat. Players look forward to performing, but they also look forward to the end of games and days off. It's good to see the young players too having other interests. If you are thinking about cricket even on your way back to the room, the stress builds up. Cricket takes up a lot of your life. Pre-season, you are leaving at 6 in the morning and not getting home at 6 at night. Because you are not playing games, you are not seeing any reward for it either. I like my fishing. I have always been involved in it with a couple of my good mates. Any time I get, I try to get out there. It's harder now with a young kid, the wife's always at you (laughs).
Leading up to this season, you'd spoken about trying not "living like a cricketer". What was that like?
I spent a lot of time at home and with family, and travelling around. I was doing bits and pieces around the house, and started doing some work outside as well (he got a Diploma in Building and Construction). So I was basically doing my rehab but was training away from cricket and not watching a lot of it, which was really good because I am sort of at the halfway point of my career now. I feel like I'm enjoying my cricket now since I've come back.
Since you started so early, is it a case of you just having been caught up in that bubble of cricket, selection, training, where you don't get a chance to break out of it, and this almost came as a blessing?
Yeah, I think so. Definitely, with the back injuries I had in the past, it was like you're injured and you're straight back into rehab and you've got your eyes set on when's the next game I can get back for. But this time, I thought I'm not going to think about that and instead take my focus away from cricket. After the surgery, I couldn't do a lot anyway. So I was just resting and then just trying to get my back feeling good. There were no set goals of when I want to get back to cricket. It was about wanting to feel good again. It was really good getting to go to friends' do's, the stuff that you miss when you're away playing cricket. It was really good. We have a six-month-old daughter now. But before that, the wife and I went to South America and stayed at a few backpackers. It was a bit different to the good hotels we get to stay in.
Do you almost feel like a different James Pattinson now? There's all this talk about you having been this fiery character earlier.
Not really. I'm still quite aggressive on the cricket field. That's the way I play my cricket. I'm a little bit more rational at home now I guess. I think I probably think things more. As a youngster, you tend to do before you think. I'm a passionate guy and I think I always will be, especially while playing cricket. I like to get into a battle. As you get older, you become more balanced and make a few more right decisions than wrong ones.
Then there's the greyhound training. Was that also part of this breaking away from cricket and trying something more? There was one walking around at the Karen Rolton Oval too.
You see them everywhere now, and a lot of people are taking them home, which is great. It's just something I've always been interested in. I used to walk my mate's greyhounds when I was a 10-year-old kid, and it's been in the family for most of my life. Then Darren (his brother who played a Test for England in 2008) got into it after his cricket and it's become my passion outside of cricket.
Has coaching greyhounds and seeing them run from the outside with no control over how they go sort of made you understand your cricket coaches better?
Yeah a little bit. With the training and their diet, you try to ensure your greyhounds are in their best space to run well. They're basically people's pets. You get to race them. You can sort of have them line up in your camp, and next minute they're racing on the track. It's a pretty cool thing. In cricket, there are a lot of different coaches these days with different techniques and styles. We're lucky to have a really good one (at Victoria) in Andrew McDonald, who's been fantastic, and I was lucky enough to play a lot of cricket with him. He gives his players the best chance of performing. That's a great trait, and he's been really good this year. He's won the Big Bash title with the Renegades and the one-day cup with Victoria and now he's got them into a Shield final. You look at how the youngsters like Gotchy (Seb Gotch) and Matt Short are getting runs, that's a really good sign for him as a coach.
Speaking of coaches, you did a lot of work with Craig McDermott on your action. Where is your action right now? Is it back to being the way it was or to how it was after the work with McDermott?
It's probably somewhere in between. I'm pretty relaxed with my action at the moment. I go through stages, say 3-4 years ago, where I was looking and critiquing everything and it became hard-work. It was probably something I tried after having some back injuries, to get a bit more side-on. You listen to people's advice, and you try it, and I gave it a go and obviously it didn't work really as expected. But in a way, it sort of worked, because I'm somewhere in between now after having been quite front-on as a young fellow. All I know is that I'm 28 now with possibly 5-6 years more left of hopefully playing cricket at the highest level. I've gone through a lot obviously but there's still a lot of time ahead and I still have managed around 60 first-class games. Hopefully the surgery can sway things in my way a little bit.
How big an inspiration is Pat Cummins and the way he has come back from his injuries?
Pat is a really big inspiration for younger and older cricketers to see the tough times he's gone through with his body and the way he's come out the other end as one of the most valuable players in world cricket. It just takes time, and people need to have some patience with some players to firstly work out what their body needs and then work out how they're going to go about things to succeed. I've been close to him for most of my career and he's been fantastic to watch hasn't he.
A lot of people outside don't understand fast bowling. You even look back to someone like Brett Lee, who was in a full body-brace when he was 21-22. It's pretty harsh to say that people's careers are over at 24.
You also carry this diary around these days where you note down things with four different coloured pencils?
Yeah, it's in my bag right now (laughs). I just like to prioritize things and write with one colour for cricket and training and others for other things. I used to be quite disorganized. Having a pretty organized wife helps as well. Some of the things I just handball over to her. At times, I just write my thoughts on a bit of paper. When you're travelling a lot it's good to be organised, especially with simple stuff like preparing food when you are away. You can just get habituated with ordering food from out all the time. It was just a conscious effort to do those little things that make you feel better.
Does the frequency of your diary entries depend on whether you've had a good or bad day on the field?
I think I use it more in a way to feel good. With cricket, you can be all over the shop a bit. You have good days and bad days and that structure goes out of the window sometimes. It's good to always have that clarity and structure around something in your life. Writing in the diary and having my thoughts on paper gives me more clarity.
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