By the last session on the fourth day, the outcome of the Boxing Day Test had pretty much been decided with only the formality of the final margin remaining. One wouldn't have known it, though, if they’d seen James Pattinson charge in and bowl well-directed bouncers at the Indian tail-enders.
The Aussie pacer could smell blood, and when predators do that, they normally go in for the kill. It was hardly a surprise, then, that even with the victory in the bag there was no intention to relent.
Pattinson may have earned an official warning from the umpires after bowling three straight bouncers at Zaheer Khan, but more importantly, he'd also issued a warning of his own."(It was) not really a conscious effort, it's just the way I play cricket. It's the way I've been brought up. I like to attack, I like to go out there and do my own stuff," the 21-year-old fast bowler said after the match.
If Pattinson was all aggression, Dandenong, Victoria, and now, Australia teammate, Peter Siddle, was all heart. The leader of the attack, he got many crucial breakthroughs, including getting rid of Sachin Tendulkar in both innings. It was his dismissal of the master batsman in the first innings, with India looking ready to seize control, it turned the game on its head. Even India skipper MS Dhoni acknowledged that.
During that fiery spell to close out day two, Siddle was consistently bowling above 140-kph and getting the ball to reverse late. He 'bowled' Rahul Dravid with one such beauty but the umpire referred it to the third umpire and video replays showed he had overstepped.
Not one to live in regret, Siddle's response was simple, yet effective. He channelled that aggression, upped his pace to consistently clock around 150-kph, and continued bowling fuller, getting the ball to reverse late.
BACK WITH A BANG
If Siddle's dismissal of Tendulkar got the Aussies back into the match, the next morning, Ben Hilfenhaus delivered the spell of his life to pocket his maiden fifer. He looked a completely different bowler from the one that struggled in the Ashes a year ago.
At the heart of Australia's return to pace bowling glory — besides the three who played at MCG, there are the likes of Ryan Harris and Mitchell Starc
waiting in the wings, and the man who could be the leader of the pack once he's back to full fitness, 18-year-old Pat Cummins — has been a man who
himself carried the load on his broad shoulders in the mid-80s to mid-90s, Craig McDermott, who replaced Troy Cooley as bowling coach after the World Cup.
“He is an Australian great and played a lot of Test cricket and just the knowledge of how to get blokes out is the big thing. He knows how to go about it. The little general chit chat with a bloke like that is paying dividends,” said Siddle.
The Aussie selectors also have another man to thank, one who plotted their downfall in last summer's Ashes. Former Victoria bowling coach who is currently with England, David Saker, had a key role in the improved lengths both Siddle and Pattinson were bowling at the 'G and earlier in the summer. “David has worked with Peter and James for a while now, since the days when he was with Victoria. He has had amazing success as England's bowling coach and was instrumental in plotting India's 4-0 thrashing this summer. Before the series, Peter and James, both told me they had discussed with him how to attack the Indian batsman. If the first Test was any indication, his advice seems to be working well,” said the duo's former coach, Bredan McArdle.