Pattinson has made it clear he feels he is ready to play in back-to-back Tests, having been nursed through the winter Ashes tour when he managed two Tests in his comeback from major back surgery.
Alex Kountouris, Cricket Australia’s head of medicine and sports science, said Pattinson was likely to be eased through this week after a heavy output against the Bulls.
“There is still a bit of time (before the Test). All that means (at the MCG) is he has bowled a lot of overs. Say, he bowled 30 overs in that game (against the Bulls), his preparation would be different to him bowling 50 overs,” he said.
“It’s probably what he bowls in the first Test, if he plays, that is going to impact whether he plays in the second Test and how he pulls up. We haven’t seen him, so it depends how he pulls up from his 50 overs. He will have a longer recovery period and be managed through the next week.”
In his two previous Shield matches, Pattinson had delivered 31 overs – in only one innings – against Western Australia, and 29 – again in one innings – against South Australia.
In his two Tests against England, he served up 30 overs at Leeds and 35 overs at Birmingham.
The first Test is slated to end on Monday week, with the second – and final – clash against Pakistan, under lights in Adelaide, beginning on Friday week.
Should Pattinson play in Brisbane – he feels he is unlikely to – he will need to prove beyond doubt that he has pulled up well and that it is in the best interests of himself and the team to play in back-to-back Tests. His workload against the Bulls could complicate his plans.
“There are lots of little markers that you can pick up. Hopefully, he plays the first Test, gets through it. That’s a good problem to have,” Kountouris said.
The Australians will not want to risk Pattinson considering not only his history of back problems but also because the three-Test series against New Zealand begins in Perth nine days later.
Pattinson’s return to health has meant Australia has arguably the most feared pace attack in world cricket, particularly when it comes to playing on home shores.
The Gabba deck remains the favourite of many of the Australian players because of the pace and bounce it provides, and was even Shane Warne’s favourite because of the extra bounce it gave his leg spin.
There are calls for Cummins, ranked Test cricket’s No.1 bowler and the reigning Allan Border medallist, to take the new ball. He has been eased through the early part of the season, having played in all 10 World Cup matches and the five Ashes Tests in England. He rediscovered reverse swing in the shield clash against Western Australia at the SCG, this coming inside 15 overs.
“The good thing is it was only six or seven weeks ago I was playing the Ashes, so I don’t feel like I’m trying to re-learn anything,” Cummins said.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.