James Pattinson ahead of his time, unlucky with back injuries, says former Test captain Ian Chappell

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Sometimes athletes are ahead of their time, and sometimes they’re saddled with injury battles that they can’t win.

In the case of retiring quick James Pattinson, it may have been both.

Former Test skipper Ian Chappell said the Victorian’s disjointed Test career may have stemmed from a combination of bad luck and bad timing as much as technique.

“From everything I’ve heard, mainly from Dennis [Lillee], technique does play a part in it. And since the early days of Pattinson’s injuries, they seem to have learned a hell of a lot,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

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“He’d probably be better off if he was just starting now, than when he did start.”

The 31-year-old announced his retirement from Test cricket yesterday, more than a decade after he stormed onto the scene in a debut series against New Zealand.

Both he and Mitchell Starc got their baggy greens on the same day – and while it’s the two-metre tall left-hander from New South Wales who has remained a permanent fixture at the highest level for the most part, it was the right-hander from Victoria who got all the early adulation.

Pattinson was named player of the series, and few would forget how he took the fight to an imperious Indian batting line-up on Boxing Day a few weeks later, staring down some of the best bats in the world and backing it up with ball in hand.

But then the injuries started, and the opportunities became few and far between.

“When there were times when he could have pushed himself into the top three [pace bowlers], he’d get injured and that’s what set him back,” Chappell said.

Starc and Pattinson debuted just after Pat Cummins, and a couple of years before Josh Hazelwood. The quartet were considered the most talented crop of young fast bowlers in the country for some time.

“Skill-wise, he was up there with the other three,” Chappell said of Pattinson.

“He seems to have had more bad luck than the rest of them. Hazlewood’s probably been the one that’s as free of injury as anyone, and he’s got a pretty simple action, a bit like Glenn McGrath. A very repeatable action.

“One was always going to miss out more than the rest, and it just happened to be Pattinson – but I think it was mainly down to the injuries.”

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Pattinson’s career ends with 81 Test wickets at an average of 26.33.

Despite their difference in stature and one being left-handed, comparisons with Bruce Reid – another fiery quick whose career was cut short by injuries – became inevitable.

“It wasn’t so surprising with Bruce Reid because of his build – but both showed you enough that you knew they were bloody fine bowlers,” Chappell said.

“You just think there could have been two, three hundred Test wickets instead of 80 odd.”

Chappell said the quality of Pattinson had always been there from the first time he saw him play.

“Somebody who’s got decent pace, 90 miles an hour plus, and you can move the ball out – anyone who can do that is going to have success.

“It was those two things and his competitiveness. They were the things that struck me when I first saw him.”

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