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Fri Aug 22 23:40:09 SAST 2014

Australia's rough diamonds

Archie Henderson | 01 August, 2011 00:01

Nathan Lyon, Trent Copeland, James Pattinson: who the bloody hell are these guys?

I know they are supposed to be Aussie cricketers, but their names do not roll off the tongue like those of Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey or even Pup Clarke - and certainly not Shane Warne.

Shaun Marsh we know, if only from two good scores in a losing team against the Proteas of 2009, and through family connections. His old man, Geoff, was out on the first ball from Allan Donald in South Africa's first match of the 1992 World Cup, but umpire Brian Aldridge would not lift a finger.

Marsh and his three mates are the rookies in a 15-man squad for this month's tour of Sri Lanka.

Australia's chief selector, Andrew Hilditch, calls them his rough diamonds.

Pattinson is of an age at which the diamond would be polished and in his ear. He is better known for his more famous brother, Darren.

Darren Pattinson left England at the age of six and learnt his cricket at the Dandenong Club in Melbourne. He returned to play for Nottinghamshire in the English County Championship.

One afternoon in July 2008, just as he was about to take the kids to a fun park, he was plucked from obscurity on the flimsy evidence of his first six years back-yard cricket in Grimsby to play for England against South Africa. Pattinson took only two wickets, South Africa won by 10 wickets and went on to win the series.

Brother James, also from Dandenong, is 10 years younger and has a hairstyle to prove it. He will hope that, given a chance to play for Australia in a test this month, his career won't closely resemble that of his elder brother - Darren never played for England again.

Copeland, like Pattinson, is a right-arm, medium-pace sort of bloke. He did not impress on Australia A's recent tour of Zimbabwe (0/55 versus South Africa A), but Hilditch obviously hopes the pair will prove successors to the men they have replaced: fast bowler and part-time roof-tiler Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger.

Hilfenhaus is only 28 but is plagued by back problems, whereas Bollinger is more beer than champagne and, at 30, has lost some pace and much of his hair, hence the nickname "Doug the Rug" after a sudden hirsuteness.

Lyon's promotion is the most romantic. A year ago the off-spinner was mowing the outfield at Adelaide; now he could be a test bowler. He took 3/55 in Australia A's two-run win over South Africa in Harare last month.

If he does well again this month on the tour of Sri Lanka, he could be bowling into the southeaster from the Kelvin Grove end at Newlands early in November.

Lyon is also part of an Aussie obsession to find the next Shane Warne. Ever since the famous Aussie leg-spinner decided to give up test cricket for the Indian Premier League, Botox and Liz Hurley, Australia have been looking for his successor. They have tried so many slow bowlers that, if he gets to play a test, Lyon will be the 11th post-Warnie Aussie spinner.

The other slow bowler in the side is Michael Beer, a man well known to us for playing in a single Ashes test (he was given 38 overs and took one wicket for 112 runs) to providing headline writers with the opportunity for some bad puns.

In keeping with bad puns, Lyon and Beer have a familiar ring for local consumers of a famous SAB product. They could be bowling in tandem against the backdrop of Devil's Peak and a brewery. But for that to occur, something good will need to happen to both - and their fast-bowling mates - in Sri Lanka this month.

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Fri Aug 22 23:40:09 SAST 2014 ::