James Pattinson is out of the first Test against Pakistan at the Gabba after being suspended by Cricket Australia for delivering a volley of obscene personal abuse at Queensland’s Cameron Gannon during Victoria’s Sheffield Shield match that concluded on Friday.
He has been found guilty of a level two breach of Article 2.13 of Cricket Australia’s code of conduct for personal abuse of a player. The charge was driven by umpires John Ward and Shawn Craig who felt that Pattinson overstepped the mark with his language towards Gannon, with whom Pattinson has been a BBL team-mate at both the Melbourne Renegades and Brisbane Heat.
The alleged abuse is believed to have been of a homophobic nature, although Gannon and the Queensland players are understood not to have taken offence. However, Pattinson’s choice of words was immediately noted by Ward and Craig, who took the charge to the match referee David Talalla.
“I made a mistake in the heat of the moment,” Pattinson said. “Straight away I realised I was in the wrong, and I apologised immediately, both to the opponent and to the umpires. I have done the wrong thing and accept the penalty. I’m gutted to miss a Test match, but the standards are there for a reason and the fault is mine.”
Pattinson and Victoria were visibly frustrated throughout the match with some of the umpiring decisions, including his own lbw in the first innings on day two when he was part of Mitchell Swepson’s hat-trick. Pattinson had previously been found guilty of two level one code of conduct breaches over the past year for which he received a reprimand and a 100% match fee fine, the latter for showing dissent at the umpire’s decision in a Shield game against South Australia. Australia’s captain Tim Paine did not hide his disappointment.
“It’s unfortunate, it doesn’t sit certainly with our values what James has done, he knows that and understands that and he’ll learn from it,” Paine said. “Missing a Test match potentially is a hard thing to deal with, but he’ll learn from that and come back better.
“I don’t know the exact details of the situation, there’s been hearings and it’s been dealt with by the appropriate people. James understands he’s let himself down, he’s let our group down and we expect him to bounce back.”
The vice-captain Pat Cummins said that he was hopeful Pattinson would learn from events, the second occasion in which he has been suspended from playing a Test match: he also missed the 2013 Mohali Test against India when he was suspended alongside Usman Khawaja, Mitchell Johnson and Shane Watson in the “homeworkgate” saga.
“Not ideal, especially over the last couple of years we’ve been pretty clear on our values and what we stand for as a team. Hopefully Patto learns from what he’s done,” Cummins said. “We absolutely love playing with him, love having him around. For me when I’m out there, I’ll try and stay conscious of what I’m trying to do. It’s pretty hard sometimes, the heat of the moment, concentrating on bowling and trying to take wickets, you can slip up every now and then, but I won’t be changing too much from what I try to do.”
Mitchell Starc, a fellow member of the pace battery, said that while he did not want to see Pattinson lose his expressive, aggressive streak, it was critical that all members of the team were aware of their very privileged, public place as role models for Australian cricket and wider society.
“I did not see the incident but Patto is very much that huff and puff type and that is what we love about him,” Starc said. “He is in your face. He is someone you love to have on your team and not play against. Apart from his bowling skills he is that old school Australian fast bowler. I don’t say or do much these days. I try and stay pretty level off the field. It is the day and age where there are cameras everywhere. Players are role models. You have to be aware of not crossing that line but there will be times when players do.”
Sean Carroll, Cricket Australia’s head of integrity and security, said: “We have a duty to uphold the highest standards of behaviour and the action taken in this matter demonstrates that. On this occasion, James acknowledges he fell short of that expectation.”
It appears highly likely now that Mitchell Starc will be the third fast bowler chosen alongside Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood although Pattinson did not think he would be selected in any case. Australia have not added a replacement to the squad with Michael Neser the other quick bowler available.