Ashley Giles has defended the selection of Darren Pattinson for the Second Test against South Africa at Headingley.
The England selectors have been subjected to a remarkable amount of criticism in recent days after calling the 29-year-old from Nottinghamshire into the team. But Giles insists that Pattinson’s call-up was fully justified and that he bowled as well as anyone in trying circumstances.
“We lost that game because we lost the toss and we didn’t score enough runs,” Giles said. “Whenever there is a change – be it through injury or leaving a player out – it always causes disruption. But to say that is the reason that we didn’t perform well is ridiculous. We can’t hide behind that.
“And we had kept the same side for the six Tests previously, so it’s not as if you can really say we’ve been inconsistent, is it?
“I thought he [Pattinson] bowled better and better as the match progressed. He did amazingly well considering it was his debut. He performed well.
“Was I surprised by the media reaction? It comes with the territory a bit, I suppose, but it was a bit of a surprise.
“I think the problem was that they [the media] hadn’t seen him bowl. But we know he is a quality performer. I knew he was good from just seeing him in warm-ups.
“Maybe they should look at the stats, or talk to the umpires or some of the guys who have faced him this season.
“Yes, he’s still in the frame for selection. He’s just played Test cricket and he’s in the squad that we’ll pick from.”
In many ways the furore over Pattinson says more about our feeble cricket media than it does about the selectors. Ian Botham even admitted – shamefully – to not having heard of him; a confession that surely undermines his credibility as a commentator.
After all, Pattinson is, the ‘form’ bowler in division one of the county championship. If the opinionated ‘experts’ in the commentary box bothered to watch a bit more county cricket they would have known he is an impressive fast bowler who has been performing beautifully for Nottinghamshire as 29 wickets at 20 apiece suggests. Kabir Ali apart, he probably is the next best swing bowler in the county game.
Forget the xenophobic nonsense about his nationality, too. Pattinson was born in Britain of British parents; that’s a lot more British than some in the England dressing room.
It’s also worth noting who the media suggested as alternatives; the likes of Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard and Simon Jones. They have one thing in common: they’ve all played for England before and the media know about them. Many of them wouldn’t have a clue about uncapped players.
For years the England selectors have been criticised for ignoring county cricket. When at last they show they are watching, and appreciating, they have been condemned. It is to be hoped they stick to their guns.
Harmison, meanwhile, intends to ignore the criticism surrounding his recall by England and is confident of making an impact if he makes his Test comeback at Edgbaston tomorrow.
The selection of the 29-year-old Durham fast bowler as an antidote to the England’s desperate performance during the 10-wicket defeat at Headingley has divided critics.
While Nasser Hussain has welcomed Harmison’s return, fellow former England captain Michael Atherton has dubbed the the selection “as uninspiring as his recent record in international cricket and his attitude,”.
But Harmison, who stands 10th on England’s all-time list of Test wicket-takers with 212 victims, has refused to become involved in the controversy.
“I’m not looking to prove any points, the selectors made a decision and everybody is talking about them,” said Harmison, who has claimed 75 wickets in all cricket this summer.
“They made a call months ago to leave me and Matthew Hoggard out and went six games without changing the team. They went six games playing well and at the time it was the right decision.
“Now they made a choice last week and it didn’t work for them. I’ve got a chance now to stake my claim.”
He continued: “I can only do what I’ve been doing and if I play this week or next week it doesn’t matter as long as I’m at that stage where I’m near the top of the ladder.”