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Forgotten batsman ‘hungry’ for Test return

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Cricket: Kurtis Patterson will return to the crease after a stint out with injury for New South Wales in the Sheffield Shield against Victoria.

He boasts a Test batting average higher than Sir Donald Bradman, and Kurtis Patterson’s international career is due for a much-needed revival.Source:AAP

Chief selector Trevor Hohns begrudgingly watched on as Australia A struggled in their audition for sports in June’s Test tour to Bangladesh.

Past and future Test cricketers were handed the idyllic opportunity to push for national selection, facing the English Lions at the MCG this week.

However, the troupe of cricket misfits faltered, suffering a comprehensive nine-wicket loss to the English side, which featured fringe Test cricketers Craig Overton, Dom Bess and Keaton Jennings.

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Most of the Australia A top order had previously played at Test level. Usman Khawaja has earned 44 Test caps since his debut in January 2011. He was Australia’s most senior batsman 14 months ago, but was brutally dropped during the Ashes.

Usman Khawaja hasn’t been selected for the national side in six months

Usman Khawaja hasn’t been selected for the national side in six monthsSource:AAP

Since then, Khawaja has averaged 21.22 in first class cricket, and only managed scores of 30 and four at the MCG this week. The 33-year-old may never represent Australia again.

Victorian Marcus Harris partnered with Khawaja at the top of the order, similarly struggling to impress the crestfallen Hohns. Scores of six and 24 were not enough to warrant a ticket to Bangladesh.

Nic Maddinson hasn’t represented Australia at Test level since December 2016, but turned heads with a stellar batting display against New South Wales at the SCG earlier this month. Unfortunately, the 28-year-old was twice dismissed by Overton’s fast-medium bowling at his home ground, aggregating 53 runs in two innings.

National coach Justin Langer said in January a shock recall for veteran Moises Henriques was on the cards if he rekindled his bowling. The New South Wales all rounder scored 25 and four against the England Lions, and didn’t bowl a delivery the entire match.

Queenslander Michael Neser has been teetering on the edge of Test selection for seven months — he was the only member of the 2019 Ashes squad not to play a match, and was 12th man throughout the recent Test summer. Neser finished this week’s Australia A fixture with figures of 0/108 from 27 overs.

Michael Neser couldn’t effectively use the pink ball this week

Michael Neser couldn’t effectively use the pink ball this weekSource:AAP

Swing maestro Jackson Bird has played nine Test matches for Australia since his debut in December 2012, but has slowly fallen down the pecking order since the disastrous 2017 Boxing Day Test match. He only snared two wickets at the MCG this week.

The only Australian cricketer who caught Hohns’ attention against the English Lions was lanky left-handed batsman Kurtis Patterson. Remember him? He plundered a maiden Test century at Manuka Oval last January and hasn’t been selected since.

After a disappointing tour of England in June, Patterson was overlooked for Matthew Wade for the 2019 Ashes squad. A quad injury in October put him out of action for several months, his hope of a Test recall dwindling.

However, the New South Wales batsman has looked menacing at the crease since his recovery. After scoring a half century in a losing cause against Victoria in the Sheffield Shield, Patterson notched a classy 94 not out against the English Lions, running out of partners before he could reach a coveted century.

HIGHEST TEST BATTING AVERAGE

Kurtis Patterson (AUS) — 144.00

Andy Ganteaume (WI) — 112.00

Abid Ali (PAK) — 107.00

Donald Bradman (AUS) — 99.94

Naveed Nawaz (SL) — 99.00

No minimum innings

Kurtis Patterson currently averages 144 in Test cricket, the highest in history.

Kurtis Patterson currently averages 144 in Test cricket, the highest in history.Source:AAP

“I’m really feeling hungry, I know that’s when I generally score my best runs when I’m in that headspace,” Patterson told cricket.com.au on Wednesday.

“If I can just carry that forward into the last few games (of the Sheffield Shield) I’ll know I’ll be doing the best I can.

“It certainly lifts the hunger levels having missed out on so much cricket and knowing there’s not a lot on the horizon, apart from those two Tests in Bangladesh.

“It’s just about making the most of these last two, hopefully three, games count as much as I can.

“Who knows what will be read into it by the selectors but it’s always nice to be on winning teams. If we can try and make a Shield final first and then lift that again, whatever happens will happen.”

Australian middle order batsman Travis Head and Matthew Wade performed soundly this summer, neither able to cement their spot in the Test side.

But while Wade struggles to find form during Australia’s one-day tour in South Africa, Patterson is plundering runs in front of the national selector back home.

With a Test batting average higher than Sir Donald Bradman, Patterson’s international career is on the verge of a much-needed revival.

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