Crock to Ashes lock: Pattinson’s stunning revival
The amazing thing isn't that James Pattinson is bowling on another level to most in the Sheffield Shield right now.
The amazing thing is that he's bowling at all.
Pattinson has Australian selectors frothing about just what he could do to England in the Ashes later this year after a 3-30 first innings effort in the Shield final which had commentators picking their jaws up off the ground.
It was fast, fiery, relentless and it was damn near unplayable.
He only got three NSW wickets, but it could have been five, or eight.
There were dozens of play and misses and LBW appeals turned as the now 29-year-old firebrand gave everyone a reminder of the ability he had when he first burst on to the Test scene way back in 2011.
It came on the back of a similarly withering spell against NSW earlier this month when he took 5-25 in the second innings at Drummoyne as the Vics stole a remarkable win.
Victorian officials have no doubt they will lose control of Pattinson next month when he is given a Cricket Australia contract, a precursor to now what seems guaranteed selection in at least the 17-man Ashes squad.
Former Australian coach Darren Lehmann had locked Pattinson in even before his Junction Oval display.
It's a stunning resurgence for a bowler who had spinal fusions surgery in New Zealand in 2017, the last-gasp move in a bid to fix a back which threatened to render Pattinson a "what could have been" player.
"The significance of the journey is probably not the performances, it's actually getting out and playing. It was a huge achievement just to get back playing," Victorian coach Andrew McDonald said.
"What he had to go through, there were a few dark times in the off-season, and that operation, only nine people have had it with that specific surgeon in New Zealand, so there is no guarantee you are going to get back.
"For him to take that risk, with a view to playing four day and Test cricket for Victoria and Australia, he's been rewarded with what's happening to him now."
He's that special to Victorian cricket, and Australian cricket, he is being managed so carefully he could only bowl in five-over spells in the final.
Even when he looked so on top of the batsmen a wicket could have fallen any ball, he didn't bowl one ball too many.
"The key thing is how he is managed going forward. I don't think he's the sort of player that can play every game, the whole year round," McDonald said.
"We have tread very carefully with his return, and played him as an all-rounder some times and really tried to look after him and that will have to be a continual thing.
"We talked about him playing until he was 35 and how would we manage that as opposed to him playing until he's 30."
Pattinson is a special player. Victoria knows that, Australia has known it, and everyone in cricket has their fingers, toes, everything crossed, hoping he's delivering for some time yet.
"He has great presence, he can light up and game, and it's exciting, it's exciting to have him in our team," McDonald said.
"His ball speed has been back. We thought the operation may have taken some pace off him but we have full confidence he could find that pace again and we think he has.
"He definitely makes guys walk taller and you know when he is in the game with the ball in his hand something is going to happen."