STEVE PATTERSON never dreamed that he would take 500 wickets in professional cricket, let alone bring up the milestone by bowling England’s leading Test run-scorer.
But at Chelmsford last week Patterson bowled former England captain Alastair Cook with a beautiful ball that held its line and went away, knocking back the Essex opener’s off stump as he tried to push towards mid-on.
“It was a nice moment, and I think back to when I first started and how I kind of wondered if I was ever going to be good enough to play for the club and the first team, when you look at all the superstars that we had at the time,” said Patterson, who made his debut in 2005.
“You think, ‘how am I ever going to play for this team?’, when you consider all the top players that we had in the side.
“So to be here however many years later having taken 500 wickets, it’s obviously very nice.
“But although those personal things, the milestones, are very nice it’s all about trying to win games of cricket.”
Patterson’s dismissal of Cook – also his 350th first-class wicket on his 133rd appearance – was a proud moment for a man who, though he would no doubt baulk at the idea, sums up everything that is good about cricket and Yorkshire cricket particularly.
Throughout his career, which has seen the tall pace bowler pound a consistently accurate line and length, Patterson, 34, has never been the biggest name at a club that has produced so many. But when they come to write the book of this era of Yorkshire cricket Patterson’s contribution deserves to be highlighted in bold letters, for this enduringly modest and unassuming man played an important role in the title triumphs of 2014-15 and much more besides.
And after a career-best 6-40 at Essex inspired a 91-run win against the champions, despite Yorkshire having been bowled out for 50 in their first innings, Patterson and his team-mates look hungry for more silverware as they continue their Championship campaign today against Surrey at The Oval.
“I think we’re in a good place overall,” said Patterson. “Obviously we had a difficult first innings against Essex, but to be bowled out for 50 in 20 overs and then come back and win the game by the best part of 100 runs was pretty special, and it’s things like that that you take away and remember for the rest of your career.
“From where we were nobody would have backed us, but the one thing about Yorkshire that we’ve always shown in all the time that I’ve been in the side is that we’ve got tremendous belief.
“If we truly believe and stick together we can kind of achieve anything in the game really, and hopefully we can take this momentum through to The Oval.”
Although Yorkshire’s fightback was exceptional, with their total of 50 all-out representing their lowest first innings score in victory since 1922, it clearly does not mask the fact that they got into that situation in the first place.
Already this season there has been a concerning continuation of the batting difficulties that have blighted Yorkshire in recent times, and although it is still early days in the campaign they cannot keep relying on their bowlers to get them out of trouble.
Even without pace men such as Liam Plunkett, David Willey and Matthew Fisher, who have been unavailable for various reasons, Yorkshire’s pace bowling has been impressive again, with Patterson, Ben Coad, Jack Brooks and Tim Bresnan having led the line well.
Particularly impressive, perhaps, has been the form of Coad, which looks to have improved further since he was Yorkshire’s leading wicket-taker last summer in his breakthrough year, although ankle soreness/fatigue has ruled him out of this week’s match, with pace bowler James Wainman coming into the squad.
“Ben has been absolutely fantastic,” said Patterson. “Last year, after people probably wouldn’t have expected him to play, he was superb and got 50 wickets after injuries to Brooksy (Jack Brooks) and Siddy (Ryan Sidebottom) gave him an opportunity.
“But I think probably more pleasing is how he’s backed it up already this year because everyone says it’s always harder in your second year and yet he’s started this season fantastic.
“It just shows that he hasn’t taken last year for granted.”
One man who has never taken anything for granted is Patterson himself, who feels lucky just to be playing for the county of his birth.
Having initially wondered whether he would ever make it at first-team level, the 500 milestone is a notable feat.