Like every young cricketer Kurtis Patterson dreams of playing for Australia.
But despite the uncertainty around Australia’s Test batting line up and the possibility of an upcoming Ashes tour of England, Patterson is adamant it isn’t what gets him out of bed in the morning.
Patterson has been named vice-captain of the Cricket Australia XI to play Sri Lanka in a three-day match in Hobart starting on Thursday.
The pink ball, day-night match will give a number of players the chance to put their names in front of national selectors with strong performances against international opposition.
Patterson has been one of the Sheffield Shield’s shining lights with the bat so far this season, with the 25-year-old scoring 428 runs including one century at an average of 47.55.
Patterson, who was also part of the Prime Minister’s XI late last year, will head to Hobart in form and with plenty of confidence.
Batting for his boyhood club side St George on Saturday, Patterson smashed an unbeaten 167 from 147 balls against Western Suburbs at Hurstville Oval.
Patterson combined with Luke Bartier (133) in a 309-run stand for the second wicket, the highest ever partnership in NSW Premier Cricket limited overs history.
But such is his unselfish personality, Patterson told the Leader he would be focused on simply helping the CAXI to victory rather than his own Test ambitions.
“Of course [I have aspirations to play Test cricket]. That’s been the dream since I was a kid to play for Australia. I love playing long-form cricket. I’d love to play for Australia in some form one day. [But] it’s certainly not in the forefront of my mind,” he said.
“My focus is to try and win games of cricket for whatever team I happen to be playing for. This week it’s the Cricket Australia XI, on the weekend it was St George. It’s a goal in the back of my mind to represent my country one day but it’s not the reason why I get up to go to training in the morning. I do that because I’m really lucky to have a job that I love and I’m passionate about.
“Of course it’s an opportunity for players with the England series coming up. There’s four more Shield matches this season as well but for me it’s not why I go out to play for NSW.
“I think it’s safe to say in the rest of the [NSW] group there’s not really any selfish cricketers just trying to put personal stats on the board. We play to the situation of the match and do whatever is required for the team. From a leadership point of view it’s about rewarding players who do that and for me it’s about going out and winning games for NSW.
“I’ve been quite consistent in the last three years of Shield cricket. It’s something I really pride myself on with my batting.
“I’m sure I’m thereabouts [with Test selection]. I haven’t had any chats with the selectors as such. I’m sure we’ll have those conversations with the selector down [in Hobart]. I know where I sit. I know I have to score more hundreds.
“It’s simple in a way which is good. There’s no technical issues or anything. It’s just about getting out there and when I get a start going on with it with match-winning efforts for the team.”
That’s been the dream since I was a kid to play for Australia... it’s an opportunity for players with the England series coming up.Kurtis Patterson
Part of the criticism of Australia’s batsmen in Test cricket has been a perceived inability to bat long periods of time and build hefty partnerships.
But Patterson’s ability to occupy the crease is another of his strengths, having faced 1052 balls with a strike rate of 40 in his 11 Sheffield Shield innings so far this season.
“Batting at three for NSW every now and then you’re in quite early against the new ball on tough wickets. It’s a mixture of playing to the conditions and playing my natural game,” Patterson said.
“I like to put a high price on my wicket. I’ve missed out in my career so far in terms of big hundreds. I haven’t kicked on as I would like yet.
“I guess I’m reasonably happy but not satisfied [with my Shield season so far] both from a personal point of view and the team. We’ve done a lot of work, obviously we were really disappointing last year. We’ve turned it around so far in Shield cricket.
“We’ve got a really important four games coming up. On a personal level I’m really hungry in the back half of the year to put in really good performances, I feel like I’m hungry and desperate for runs.”
Patterson is excited to test himself against world class opposition in what will be Sri Lanka’s only warm-up match against the CAXI before the first Test against Australia in Brisbane starting on January 24.
“Hopefully above anything else I’ll get to play some cricket. I’ve had a bit of time off not being in the XI with the [Sydney] Thunder in the Big Bash. It’s nice, in a way. It’s got me looking forward to getting out there to compete against a quality international team,” he said.
“Whenever you get the opportunity to play against an international team it’s exciting. You’d think we’ll play against the team who they are thinking about sending out for the first Test. It’s a good opportunity to play some quality cricket.
“I like [playing pink ball cricket] to be honest. It’s always nice to have a little change up. All the pink ball cricket I’ve played has been at the Gabba or in Adelaide. I enjoy it, it brings a new challenge. Generally once the lights come on and it’s nightfall the ball does talk a little bit more. It’s always a challenge and it’s exciting so I’m looking forward to it.”
Born at Hurstville, Patterson played his junior cricket with South Hurstville Carss Park before being graded at St George, starting in third grade as a 16-year-old.
His enthusiasm for representing his local club despite becoming an accomplished first class player is evident by the number of times he has made himself available for Saints in recent seasons.
While St George have a young squad who are still finding their feet at first grade level, Patterson is confident they have what it takes to kick on in the second half of the grade season.
“I love it. I absolutely love the Dragons. I’ll never forget how they managed me really well when I was younger. They played a certain part in me getting to where I am today. Hurstville Oval is one of the best club grounds in Australia. I love playing for Saints,” he said.
“I feel like we’ve got some really exciting players. Blokes like Nick Stapleton, Luke Bartier, [Jonathan] Rose. All players with really high potential for the future. We’ve not played the best cricket this year which is disappointing. The challenge for the group is to be able to learn a little bit quicker than we are at the moment.
“I think we’ve got some really good potential and we shouldn’t be sitting toward the bottom like we are. That’s the challenge for our young group. Guys like [Trent Copeland], [Moises Henriques] and myself always talk about it when we’re back at Saints.
“We need to be continuously learning and not take it for granted playing first grade for such a proud, historic club like Saints.”