James Pattinson had suffered spate of injuries throughout his career but multiple back stress fractures in 2017 meant his career was at crossroads and going under the knife his only option to save it.
The pacer was worried about what if the spinal surgery didn’t go right but after much deliberation, he decided to go for it.
Pattinson said that was the most difficult time for him and having a surgery was like last resort. “It was really difficult. I think fourth time I had a stress fracture in a same year in my back so that’s y we decided to go for surgery it was the last resort. (There is) fair bit of anxiety around when you go down that path as you know if it doesn’t go well, that’s probably your career done. But I was always optimistic, it would work,” said Pattinson during the media interaction on Saturday.
Among those who helped Pattinson through that phase was former New Zealand pacer and MI bowling coach Shane Bond, who had also gone through similar surgery to keep his international career going. Pattinson was operated upon by New Zealand surgeon Grahame Inglis, the same doctor who had fixed Bond’s issue.
“I was in close contact with Shane Bond who actually had same surgery. Great to get a feedback (from) him on how he was feeling after the surgery. Someday I would wake up and could hardly walk, he assured me that “it was all part of it, you will get better”.”
Pattinson had revealed after the surgery that at first Inglis wasn’t sure whether he will be able to fix his back and it was a final roll of the dice. “In my opinion he’s on the margin and it’s a last-ditch attempt to try and keep him bowling. He’s got multiple problems up and down his back and we’re trying to pick off the one that’s stopping him from returning,”Inglis told Stuff.co.nz in 2017.
He had a stop start Test career because of the several injuries but whenever he donned the Baggy Green, he was among the wickets. Before bad back crippled him, he had 70 wickets in 17 Tests and reviving his Test career was one of the major reasons behind decision to have the surgery.
“The big thing on getting the operation was I probably could have not had the operation and maybe settled to play the shorter format of the game. But being 27 and having a pretty good Test record and doing quite well, that’s the big thing that’s kept me pushing on and trying to get back,” Pattinson was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
The surgery went well and he has not looked back since then. He was bowling full tilt within few months, made it to the 2019 Ashes squad, had a decent outing in the Big Bash for Brisbane Heat and is now rolling his arm over for the first time in the Indian Premier League (IPL) for Mumbai Indians with success.
Now 30 years old, the Victorian isn’t thinking too far ahead though, instead focusing on one game at a time, taking care of his back along the way. “Last two years, I have gradually got better and better and now I think another year before fully trusting (my back). (Till then) I will work through it, keep an open mind and try to be optimistic,” he said.
His back seems to have held on fine in the IPL so far and MI are reaping the rewards of it. He was brought in as a replacement for Lasith Malinga but with compatriot Nathan Courter-Nile also injured he go an opportunity to be in the playing XI and he has grabbed it. Playing as a back-up seamer to Jasprit Bumrah and Trent Boult, Pattinson has picked up nine wickets in six matches and has a better economy rate than both.
But he is happy to be in their shadow and do his bit. “Confidence they have (in their ability) rubs onto to you. So, you go into the game with confidence and know that you are surrounded by world class bowlers.,” said Pattinson.
MI next game will be against table-toppers Delhi Capitals on Sunday and Pattinson is confident of team’s chances. “One good thing about our bowling attack is that we have got a good combination. People who contain run rate, people who attack and take wickets. With a team (Delhi Capitals) like that, it’s hard to stop them. They have got a wonderful batting lineup, similar to us. (Our job) will be to think ahead of the batter and not be predictable.”