Australia v India, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day January 14, 2012

Starc eager to keep learning


Mitchell Starc cannot help but be compared to Mitchell Johnson. It's not just the name. It's the left-arm variety that he adds to the attack. Occasionally during his first two Tests against New Zealand, it seemed that Starc might have inherited one of Johnson's flaws - a faulty radar. But in his third Test, he has found his line, and he's done it at one of Johnson's favourite venues.

As Starc swung the ball in to the right-handers in the second innings at the WACA, it was hard to tell if it was the Fremantle Doctor blowing in across his left shoulder or his wrist position that was making it work. Certainly the breeze had helped Johnson achieve the same effect at this ground in summers past. But the way Starc hooped the ball in the Big Bash League last week in Sydney, it seems it is a skill that he is starting to master.

The delivery that trapped Sachin Tendulkar lbw on the second afternoon in Perth was a beauty. It curved in and had the world's best batsman in all sorts of trouble, playing down the wrong line, and despite Tendulkar's clear annoyance at Aleem Dar's decision, it deserved to be given out. After the day's play, Starc spoke of how he had picked the brains of Wasim Akram - who is in Australia commentating on this series - to help him with his swing.

"I had the chance to catch up with him for half an hour in Sydney," Starc said. "The main thing I had the chance to talk to him about was swinging the ball consistently and a bit of wrist position. It was only a brief chat and hopefully I can catch up with him some time soon, because he was a genius at what he did. It's not going to harm me to chat to him about those things.

"I've been working on my wrist position for a while now, so it's starting to pay off. That consistency to swing the ball is coming in now as well."

Starc was mobbed by his team-mates when Dar's finger went up, the wicket of Tendulkar a major blow to India's hopes of rescuing the Test. He had already picked up the wicket of Gautam Gambhir with a well-directed short ball that was gloved to gully in his first over, but the Tendulkar strike was clearly a special moment for Starc.

"It was an amazing feeling," he said. "Any time you get a Test wicket is pretty special but to get the Little Master is a great feeling. More importantly they're four wickets down in the second innings and [we'll be] pushing to close that out tomorrow hopefully.

"We feel we've got enough to hopefully close them out without having to bat again but we're going to have to bowl pretty well tomorrow. The wicket is a bit flatter with the grass on there, but the cracks are starting to open up a little bit. We're going to have to bowl well but I think we've got enough to get there."

India finished the day with six wickets in hand, but they needed another 121 runs to make Australia bat again. On a pitch that has some cracks beginning to emerge, that loomed as an uphill battle for a side already low on confidence. Barring an Indian miracle, the teams will head to Adelaide next week for the fourth Test with the series decided.

Starc is aware that, whatever happens over the rest of the Perth Test, he is the man most likely to make way for the return of the offspinner Nathan Lyon at the Adelaide Oval. But at 21, Starc knows that he is still on a learning curve, and for the time being he is just enjoying every opportunity he gets to be part of a winning Australia side.

"I'd be very, very surprised if they play four quicks in Adelaide," he said. "Out of the four of us here, I'd probably be the one to go ... But I'm happy to take that if Australia get a win up. I've got to keep working at my game. There's a lot to do for me. I'm still learning. I'm just cherishing every game I get for Australia.

"It's a great environment in the change-room. They make you feel right at home. When you first come into the team and Ricky Ponting comes in and he's already making jokes with you, it's quite easy to be a part of [the unit]. It's a great feeling among the group this summer."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajaram on January 15, 2012, 14:53 GMT

    It is a pity that Mitchell Starc will have to sit out the Adelaide Yest,unless Ryan Harris is dropped (for what reason- a left arm fast bowler?). Mitchell Starc need not worry. Our fast bpowling stocks are good, and the new crop - Pat Cummins, James Pattinson,Trent Copeland and Mitchell Starc will sooner or later become permanent fixtures in our side as the age of Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and Mitchell Jonson catches up, as also when injuries to one / two fast bowlers (like Pat Cummins,Mitchell Johnson and James Pattinson right now) give him an obvious opportunity.He has the ability to swing the ball INTO AND AWAY from the right hand batsman, and like Mitchell Johnsoon, he will be lethal.

  • Hector on January 15, 2012, 7:53 GMT

    @mari2619....Yes, in all probability, Starc would make more runs than Marsh. Siddle deserves a rest and the conditions in Adelaide don't suit him. Hang on??? Wasn't he the third top scorer again....??? Stuff Watson, play Siddle as the all-rounder and give young Mitch another game. When they are all fit, we have lots of test fast bowlers: It will take many many injuries before Johnston will ever play again. Current ranking of ability: Pattinson, Harris, Siddle, Cummins, Hilfenhauss, Starc, Cutting, Copeland, Coulter-Nile, Mackay, George, Herrick, Butterworth, somebody else, Mitch johnston.

  • Chris on January 15, 2012, 4:44 GMT

    It would be poor reward for Siddle to omit him for Adelaide. Personally, I'd rather see all the quicks retained and if Watson becomes available, bring him or Khawaja in for Marsh, who is NOT up to test standard. Clarke would do well to use himself and Warner for spin options. Clarke is as good as any left-arm tweaker we've had in recent years and, from what I've heard, Warner is more than just a change-bowler.

  • Michael on January 15, 2012, 0:38 GMT

    Shame SRT put on such a display at being out LBW must not happen at home very offten. It reminded me of his country man Sunil Gavaskar in Adelaide all those years ago trying to lead his team off the field after Lillee traped him. I wonder why these two great batsmen feel they are immune to LBW?

  • Dummy4 on January 15, 2012, 0:35 GMT

    Starc Sucks. Faulkner from tassie is the best left armer in australia. and he is an allrounder. Starc only takes wickets on tail enders that try and slog him. yes he picked up a couple of wickets, but even the crappy johnson picks up wickets here. He has a first class average of almost 35 and strike rate of almost 58. Faulkner is younger then starc and averages 24 and strike rate of 46, not to mention a batting ave of 30 with 5 fifties. The only thing Starc has going for him is he is from NSW. anyone who plays for NSW will play for australia. Dont see Khawaja doing much better then marsh atm. only bring watson in for marsh if fully fit otherwise im happy to keep marsh where he is. he is a quality player, just needs some form coming back from injury. but i would swap him for watson if fit.

  • Kaze on January 15, 2012, 0:16 GMT

    Mitchell Johnson has gotten undeserved criticism. Yep you heard right, he has been inconsistent and wayward and ridiculous at times, but when he has been good he has been brilliant. He want win a match on his own. If he could live up to potential he would be one of the top 3 all rounders ever. People seem to forget or don;t realise that he came within a couple of wickets of equaling Shane Warne's record for 50 wickets in a calendar year for 3 successive years. No One has touched this record so coming close to it is an achievement and it wasn't acquired by being a fluke. If Johnson could iron out his issues and fix his batting flaws he would be brilliant for Aus. The same applies to Starc although Starc is not as good a batsman as Johnson.

  • Ashley on January 14, 2012, 23:49 GMT

    Well bowled. Another in a growing and formidable group of Australian fast bowlers. They say the darkest hour is right before the dawn and perhaps the nadir of the Ashes lost to South Africa B last summer might be the turning point. The batting is a real concern still and won't be confident until positions 3 and 4 in the batting lineup is resolved perhaps by Watson in there somewhere. I am predicting Punter will retire after the Adelaide test.

  • Basil on January 14, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Well done to Starc. On a flat Adelaide Oval track I would drop him though and bring back Lyon, I would also drop Marsh and bring in Christian who can bat at 6 and bowl 15 overs a day if need be. India will bat well in Adelaide so 5 bowlers is a must. Starc has plenty of time and will probably get selected in the ODIs.

  • Julian on January 14, 2012, 21:51 GMT

    Hilfenhaus has been great, but has done a lot of hard work. Assuming it's 3-0 to Australia for Adelaide, it's Hilfenhaus, not Starc who should be rested to make way for Lyon. Both Lyon and Starc need the experience and Harris and Siddle will be enough to lead the attack (can rest during the one-dayers).

  • Jay on January 14, 2012, 20:31 GMT

    In all honesty, Jimmy Pattinson looks to be a quality quick out of a line up of mediocre ones. Starc is nothing special. It's just that the Indian batsmen have made him look good. The lack of skills and temperament shown by the Indians would have made any new kid on the block look 'world class'. Pattinson on the other hand looks a genuine quick who could trouble batsmen on any pitch. Well still good luck to Starc. He's a young man still finding his feet at this level. Hopefully he doesn't waste it by playing too much T20 cricket.

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