Victoria fast bowler James Pattinson suffered a 5th stress fracture to his back last winter, which sidelined him from the tour to Bangladesh and the entire 2017-18 season.
Pattinson underwent a back surgery in New Zealand, which saw metal pins inserted and his troublesome L4 vertebrae strengthened with wire and now has started the rehabilitation phase. He was once poised to become a part of the four paced attack for Australia, called the four horsemen of apocalypse - Mitch Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Pattinson.
Now, he has set his goal to return fitter, faster and stronger with 2019 Ashes in mind.
"You read (the media) and it says the 'three seamers' … I want to be in with them. Hopefully one day I can get on a tour and all four of us can play together," Pattinson said, while commentating on Cricket Network's live stream of Victoria's JLT Sheffield Shield.
He further said, "The 2019 Ashes is my real goal, everything from now is getting right for that and putting performances together to get selected for that. That's the real big one. The messages I've been getting from Cricket Australia are they want me to try and get ready for that.”
"Most of my planning and the games I play over the coming (2018-19) summer will be around getting ready for that. It's a long way away, but the goal is there," Pattinson added.
"I had a scan and everything looked like it was good, we couldn't see any fracture lines anymore so everything is on the right track," Pattinson said.
Talking about his new game plan, thanks to some limitations to his back, Pattinson said, "A big emphasis for me is trying to improve my batting as much as possible, so when I do need a rest (from bowling loads) maybe I can play as allrounder rather than totally miss the game … maybe just back off the overs and bat at six or seven for Victoria."
He added, "I've always loved batting, almost as much as my bowling. And there's an opportunity to take my batting that little bit higher and strive for that six or seven spot for Victoria.”
Pattinson said that he was in touch with former New Zealand fast bowler Shane Bond, who underwent the same procedure and also with Corey Anderson.
"They both said the first two months back bowling, it felt like there was a bit of concrete stuck in their back. So I think I'm going to go through those sort of things, but that's part and parcel of it," Pattinson said.
"He (Bond) says it worked, it kept him on the park for longer, and lots of others have gone through the same thing and the success rate is pretty good. Hopefully, fingers crossed it was the right decision to prolong my career," Pattinson signed off.