James Pattinson must think Test cricket is a walk in the park.
It really isn’t supposed to yield such a rich harvest so quickly, certainly not for fast bowlers.
Speedsters are supposed to do all the heavy lifting.
They are meant to toil away to exhaustion under the midday sun, like Noel Coward’s mad dogs and Englishmen, drowning in their own sweat, their blistered feet swimming in blood in their size sixteen boots, while classically educated Hooray Henries at the other end play graceful strokes and get the benefit of any doubts.
West Indian great Wes Hall once described his vocation as “99 per cent perspiration and one per cent inspiration”.
Try telling that to Pattinson.
His Test career is just 34 days old but already he has snared 24 wickets at a miserly average, bagged two five-wicket hauls, been named man of the match twice in three Tests, man of the series in his only completed series, and entertains solid prospects of further honours in his fourth Test.
He must wonder what all the fuss is about.
He made his debut at the start of the summer, on December 1, and went on to take 14 wickets at 14 runs apiece in the two-Test series against New Zealand.
Boxing Day at the MCG didn’t faze him a bit; he took six wickets for 108 in the first Test against India.
He also scored 55 runs, giving every indication that he could prove to be a useful lower-order bat, if not an all-rounder.
He struck gold with just the third ball of the second Test at the SCG on Tuesday, having Gautam Gambhir caught at first slip for a duck.
He then tore through India’s top order, removing danger man Virender Sehwag and VVS Laxman before capturing the biggest scalp of all, Sachin Tendulkar’s.
Pattinson, 21, had not even been born when Tendulkar played his first Test in 1989.
But he was not intimidated by the prospect of bowling to a God of the game, and one who was chasing a 100th international century at that.
He was inspired by it.
Tendulkar on 41 edged Pattinson onto his stumps while attempting a square drive and the Indians were in deep trouble at 6-124 after winning the toss and batting.
Pattinson finished with 4-43 off 14 overs, taking bowling honours yet again.
He admitted Tendulkar was unlucky to chop on a wide delivery, but said: “Getting Sachin out is something I will remember for my whole life.
“If you bowl enough balls in the right areas, you’re going to get batsmen out, no matter who they are.”
The 1.91 metre Victorian is yet to experience the empty feeling of going wicketless in a Test innings.
No doubt he is willing and capable of grinding out the back-breaking days of unrewarded slog that are supposed to be the fast bowler’s lot in life.
But they will remain alien to him if he keeps taking wickets at this rate.
That won’t happen, of course.
Those horrible days will come.
How he copes with them will determine how great he can aspire to be.
Cricket is like that. – AAP