BEING 11 years younger than his brother Darren, James Pattinson never got much of a look-in at backyard cricket matches in Melbourne.
But after his match-winning burst against New Zealand in Brisbane yesterday, the 21-year-old joked that the first thing he would ask his big brother was, "How many Test five-fors have you taken?"
Three years ago, Dandenong right-armer Darren Pattinson represented England, where he was born in 1979, against South Africa. He took two wickets for 96 and was discarded. Since then, he has maintained a summer-chasing career for Nottinghamshire and Victoria.
A roof-tiler who was a father by the time he played Test cricket, Darren followed a working-class path into the game. James, by contrast, was identified by Victorian and Australian under-age selectors and nurtured through the elite youth system. On his one-day debut for Victoria two years ago, he caught the eye of late columnist Peter Roebuck, who said his 6/48 "gave heart to those worried that the pace bowling stocks are running low".
Prophecy turned into reality in his first over yesterday. After an encouraging but not overwhelming opening on Thursday, hampered by slippery footmarks and clammy palms, Pattinson had removed New Zealand's aggressive Brendon McCullum with a Saturday night seamer.
On his introduction yesterday, he swung one away from the groping bat of Martin Guptill, then had him fending limply to short-leg. He beat Kane Williamson before having him caught at second slip, Ricky Ponting taking his second catch in five balls off a bowler 15 years his junior.
Ross Taylor was next, New Zealand's captain and star batsman failing to handle Pattinson for the second time in the match. The hat-trick ball was too fast for Jesse Ryder but a shade wide for the stumps.
Pattinson's figures were four wickets for one run in four overs. Minutes later, removing Doug Bracewell with another outswinger, Pattinson had earned five wickets and the hearts of Australian fans, who voted him man-of-the-match ahead of Michael Clarke.
Pattinson, who had been taken overseas four times before playing a Test, is an endearing blend of the vulnerable and the traditional.
Rather than impersonate the fire-breathing paceman, he admitted he was nervous throughout the match, needed reassurance after McCullum drove him for three fours in his first over on Thursday, and conceded he was happy McCullum didn't face him immediately in the second innings.
On the other hand, Pattinson's weapon was the old-fashioned ball that has deserted Australian speedsters of late but was central to attack leaders going back through national bowling coach Craig McDermott through Dennis Lillee, Graham McKenzie and Ray Lindwall: the late, unplayable away-swinger. A star had landed, not from England or, amazingly, from New South Wales.