Australia's bowlers are the real deal. Common consent and common sense both insist that any hope of recapturing the Ashes lies in their hands.
Within their ranks there is no deal more real than James Pattinson, 95mph of sleek pace, deceptive hostility and late movement. If the terracotta urn which creates all the fuss is to change hands, expect Pattinson to have invaded the souls of England's batsmen.
Like so many of the speed merchants' breed, Pattinson is a gentle and genial chap off the field with plenty of time for a yarn. On it, he is a menace and at 23, 10 matches and 40 inexpensive wickets into his Test career, he is approaching his peak.
"I like the pressure coming into a big series," he said at Worcester this week as the tourists continued their rehabilitation following the dramas of their early weeks in England. "I like having that expectation to do well. All the fast bowlers need that.
"That's the big thing about international cricket. You're only in it for a short time, and you're expected to perform well. Within this team at the moment, we've got a lot of young guys with amazing talent."
It was an Australian type of response to the question, open and confident, which might be expected except that Pattinson has English parents. His dad John is from Grimsby, his mum Sue, from Wombwell in Yorkshire, home of the most famous Cricket Lovers' Society in the world. The name might be familiar since his elder brother, Darren, 11 years his senior, infamously played one Test for England in 2008.
Pattinson senior was called up to take on South Africa at Headingley after playing only six matches for Nottinghamshire five years ago. He took 2 for 90 as England lost by 10 wickets and never played again.
It was hardly his fault that he was picked, although he was playing county cricket in slightly confused circumstances: an Englishman who had emigrated with his parents at the age of six and was able to ply his trade here as a non-overseas player. Young James, born in Melbourne, has a dual passport but no such dilemma.
"Playing for England was talked about a couple of times," he said. "When my Dad still supported England when I was a young fella it was like 'You should go and play over there' and I was like 'No, no, no'. When I was about six or seven we moved back over to live. But we lasted six months –Mum didn't like the cold. If she had liked the weather over here it might have been a different story."
The brothers' father, John, continued to support England until Darren was cast aside so summarily. His change of allegiance did not prevent England trying to lure his second son.
"Dad has always been that hard-nosed guy that stuck by where he's come from," said James. "He didn't like the way Darren was treated over here, it wasn't his fault he played and was made the scapegoat.
"Before I played cricket for Australia, David Saker was in my ear trying to get me to play for one of the counties when he moved over to coach here with England. I owe a lot to Australian cricket. They've been good to me through the junior ranks and gave me the opportunity to get to where I am now."
Where he is now could make the difference for Australia this summer. One of the abiding images of their humiliation in India earlier this year, when they lost 4-0, was of Pattinson in the opening Test. Running in with venom, he removed Murali Vijay with a blistering yorker which beat the batsman for speed and then undid Virender Sehwag with a shorter ball which clattered into the bat and on to the stumps. Here was the paceman as terrorist.
"Reading a few things over the past month people have written us off and said we can't win," he said. "Well, I think differently to that and we can win." He would be much too nice a bloke to wave around his British passport afterwards.Reuse content