RELATIVE rookie James Pattinson has enjoyed a blistering start to his Test career but it is the looming series against world champion South Africa which is set to provide him with his biggest test yet.
And the 22-year old is simply relishing the prospect of bowling to a glut of the globe's best batsmen.
"It should be a great challenge and we're looking forward to it," he said.
"They've got some great batters. Jacques Kallis's record speaks for itself, Graeme Smith is in great form and we all know what Hashim Amla has been doing in the past six months.
"He's the leading run scorer in world cricket at the moment so I think they've got an amazing balance.
Pattinson is in the running for the ICC's Emerging Player of the Year gong after claiming 5-27on Test debut against New Zealand and cutting a swathe through India twice.
And he boasts an impressive Test bowling average of 18.96 from five matches.
But now he wants to prove his wares against the seemingly invincible Amla and co.
"To get the start last year really helped me and gave the confidence to believe I could compete at the highest level," he said.
"The main thing for me now is to not put too much expectation on myself to keep performing like that.
"(But) I think if I do all the right things and do the practice and back myself, the results will take care of themselves."
With a host of Australian fast bowlers pressing their claims for a berth in Brisbane for the first Test on November 9, Pattinson must keep himself at the forefront of selectors' minds.
"There is some healthy competition in our own team for spots at the moment and that's really good," he said of Peter Siddle, Pat Cummins, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Ryan Harris.
"We've got probably six or seven bowlers who can get up there and play and perform at that level.
"I think that's fantastic for us and it just makes me even more hungry to try and get a spot. Whoever does get it is going to be in a great contest."
And Pattinson is eager to help the Aussies reclaim the world's number one mantle with victory over South Africa.
"The series has been hyped up a bit more with the chance of the number one spot being up for grabs," Pattinson said.
"We want to take it off them. It's been an aim of ours since Pup (Michael Clarke) took over as captain, to try and get that mantle back.
"And I think our Test cricket over the past year has been fantastic.
"It's going to be a tough battle but if we can knock them off, it's going to hold us in good stead and will give us great ability to back ourselves a bit more, giving us more confidence for the Ashes next year."
Pattinson was at Buderim yesterday for the opening day of play in a three-day trial involving Victoria and Tasmania.
He expected Victoria to be a force this summer.
"Rob Quiney is scoring a lot of runs and it'd be great for him to push for selection for higher honours with Australia and we've got a great young group of bowlers coming through so I think we've got that balance there," Pattinson said.
"Andrew McDonald has had a good pre-season and hopefully Siddle and I can start off the year with a few Shield games," he added.
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