It’s a new dawn. It’s a new day.
Quoting lyrics from a Michael Buble cover in a cricket yarn is unorthodox to say the least, but his 2005 version of Feeling Good is a fitting pre-match tune as Test cricket returns to the Gabba on Thursday.
Australia hosts Sri Lanka, following a Test series loss to the world’s top-ranked side India and a block of listless one-day internationals, in what really represents a new chapter.
High hopes lay in a pair of fresh-faced batsmen, who ooze potential and, through form and circumstance, will receive baggy greens sooner than even they could have thought.
Victorian batting prodigy Will Pucovski was named in the squad two weeks ago at age 20, while New South Wales’ Kurtis Patterson forced his way into the XI after a dominant display against Sri Lanka in Hobart last week.
The rising star who thrives on a challenge
Pucovski’s path, and its bumps, has been well documented.
With a string of concerning concussions in the past and mental health issues in more recent times being managed, the run machine bolted into the squad earlier this month having played just eight first-class matches.
With an impressive average of 49, including two tons from 13 innings, the youngster made headlines in October with his mammoth innings of 243 against Western Australia. It was in the Sheffield Shield season opener, on a lively Perth wicket.
He would take a two-month break then return for the final Shield match of 2018, scoring a second-innings half century, again against WA.
Young gun Will Pucovski is at the crease for the Cricket Australia XI against Sri Lanka.
— Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) January 19, 2019
Playing with Patterson, for the Cricket Australia XI last week, Pucovski made scores of 23, then 33 not out. Scott Boland described his Victorian teammate as the “best young talent” he’s seen.
A step up in class has always been welcomed by the young gun. In fact, Pucovski thrives given greater opportunity and batting responsibility.
He first burst onto the scene with a record 650 runs, at 162.50, in the 2016 under-19 national championships, and has more than handled himself playing with and against older and more experienced opponents in grade cricket for Melbourne and in the Sheffield Shield.
It really doesn’t matter what he produces against Sri Lanka this time around. His tale to this point is remarkable, one of incredible talent, persistence and adversity.
An exciting 20-year-old prospect debuting in the middle order is thrilling for both player and Australian cricket. For he is the future.
The elegant Patterson, in Tasmania, became the first Australian batsman to reach triple figures this summer. Then the second, with unbeaten knocks of 157 and 102.
It takes his rich vein of form and runs tally to 426 in less than a fortnight, including 167 not out for Sydney grade club St George.
Australian cricket followers, commentators and participants have long been calling for in-form players to be picked.
Patterson was ripe for the picking and high on confidence, with his bat doing the talking. He said so upon earning selection.
100! Kurtis Patterson might not be in the Test squad, but he has just reached three figures for the CA XI against Sri Lanka.
— Fox Cricket (@FoxCricket) 17 January 2019
“I feel at the top of my game, to be honest. I feel like I’m hitting the ball as well as I ever have. You want to be picked when you’re playing well and I feel like I am,’’ he told a media conference.
While that irresistible form is key, Patterson’s strength and history against the pink ball is also compelling.
In Sheffield Shield, the left-hander averages 65 against the pink Kookaburra, including a hundred against Queensland at the Gabba in October 2016, compared to 40.93 facing the red ball.
At just 18 years old and 206 days, Patterson became the youngest batsman to score a century on debut. So early, he promised so much.
The knock on him, in the years to follow, was converting 50s into big scores. His record reads 25 half centuries but just five hundreds.
A change in mindset and mental approach last November has paid dividends – the runs on the board speak volumes.
Test cricket at the Gabba usually signals the beginning of summer but this match represents a new beginning, a look at the next generation, a glimpse into the future.