Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane, 1st day December 1, 2011

Starc searches for consistency


Mitchell Starc's debut day for Australia began with a pep-talk from Richie Benaud. It ended with two wickets and an enhanced reputation.

Only six years a fast bowler after previously playing as a wicketkeeper, 21-year-old Starc's natural gifts of speed, swing and bounce were all in evidence in the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba. With a little more time and training, some critical consistency may yet be added as well.

While he enjoyed a fair slice of good fortune in collecting the wickets of Brendon McCullum and Jesse Ryder with wide deliveries, it was the ones that did not collect wickets that were more striking. His second swung sharply enough to almost cut McCullum in two, and another glanced off the helmet as the opener was too slow to duck. Asked if he bowled better deliveries than those that reaped his wickets, Starc grinned.

"Definitely, I think the wickets I got were a bit of luck with them, I was a little bit inconsistent but pretty happy with how I went in the end," Starc said. "I feel like my bowling's been pretty good the last few weeks, it's coming out pretty well, and I've just got to work on that consistency to get that ball swinging, and to see it do a bit today was fantastic."

Benaud presented Starc with his baggy green cap, as a fellow New South Welshman but also a fellow passenger on the plane back from Brisbane a year ago, after Starc had taken 4 for 27 against Sri Lanka in an ODI.

"It was a special moment for me [receiving the cap] and I won't forget that moment for the rest of my life," Starc said. "He just said a few things, the last few years he's been watching me, and I actually sat on a plane home with him after the ODI I played here last year. That wasn't a big conversation, but little things were said there at the end."

James Pattinson took the new ball, but he and Starc both needed help staying calm at times, and Starc credited both the pre-match planning to not be fazed by early McCullum boundaries, and the soothing words of Peter Siddle, the most experienced member of the attack.

Australia's planning was again driven by the bowling coach Craig McDermott's desire for a fuller length, and it is he, alongside Troy Cooley at the Centre of Excellence, who has shaped Starc's bowling with Australia. In New South Wales, Starc was first prompted to try pace bowling by Neil D'Costa, also the mentor of Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes, while the former one-Test bowler Matthew Nicholson has also coached him.

"Brendon McCullum's a pretty dangerous player, and he can score pretty quickly," Starc said. "But we felt if we could get the ball up there in a good spot and get our fielders in play, we talked about if they're going to drive us through the covers we're happy to take a few runs and create those chances. It was good to see the back of Brendon pretty early.

"[Siddle] was great today, he spoke to Patto and I a lot when we were bowling and trying to keep us in the present and keep the plans focused, so he was great today and bowled well as well."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Retarded on December 2, 2011, 2:32 GMT

    Dumbfounded as to why Cutting was left out of the team in favour of Starc. The selectors' unnatural love for left armers continue. At least we're facing New Zealand. Imagine the uproar had this experiment been done against India. Well, Tendulkar'll get his 100th century and we're probably going to have Argus II. Starc's bowling action looks better than Johnson's but he bowls rather erratically. Johnson has more control over his length than Starc has. Also, whatever happened to performance based selection. Our best performed bowler (Cutting) this season wasn't selected and the best performed bowler over the past 2 seasons (Copeland) wasn't even included in the 12 man squad. To think that even Lyon was at risk of being dropped in favour of 4 unproven fastmen....

  • Andrew on December 2, 2011, 1:56 GMT

    Starc swings the ball more than MJ - however I can see where people see the similarities. I have seen games where he has 3/80 of 15 overs & people have said he is "too expensive" - however clearly in a lot of those games - boundaries have come thru/over the slip cordon. He'll create chances, I think his best is about 2 years away (assuming no injuries). I would of had Cutting ahead of him or Pattinson. Patto - deserved a crack after being nearly there on the last 2 tours. Siddle showed his major asset - tenacity, but he will get overtaken before the season is over.

  • Randolph on December 2, 2011, 0:01 GMT

    Good to see the poms staying interested. They're prolly starting to get nervous with all these young guns. Wait until we release Coulter Nile on them.

  • Dummy4 on December 1, 2011, 23:42 GMT

    As always the selectors seem to be over-thinking everything. They can't just pick someone on form, they're always trying to look for more and hope that they can work some kind of magic. It's as if nothing has changed despite having a whole new group picking the team. They need to go and see "Moneyball" and get invested in the statistical analysis that has ultimately proven quite effective in baseball. Stop trying to second guess players and just pick the ones who are being effective. Cutting should feel absolutely betrayed by this kind of nonsense. Starc has simply been earmarked on potential, some mystical quality that people see in him. It's absurd. In the past Aussie cricketers needed to earn their spot with wickets and runs. Obviously it's not as hard as it used to be but at a very minimum we should still be picking players who have done something. It's a shame the cricket watching public can't vote to select the people who end up in charge of the team.

  • david on December 1, 2011, 22:33 GMT

    snowflake. were u been i can name 5/6 bowlers who will bowl that type of bowl. so maybe theres more now, than the period you mentioned. dpk

  • Nicholas on December 1, 2011, 19:32 GMT

    Well, it's all in 'stark' contrast to some other performances we've seen recently from the Aussie selectors little experiments...

  • Lou on December 1, 2011, 17:36 GMT

    He's very young, but so far in his career has not been that effectual away from the GABBA. He has plenty of time to develop though.

  • P on December 1, 2011, 16:03 GMT

    Mccallam and Ryder fell to T20 shots. I would not read too much into those two balls. Most likely NZ will cross 250 score. I don't think there are any 150+ bowlers left in the world. Fast bowling today, for me, will always be inferior to fast bowling when Bond, Lee and Akthar was playing.

  • Dummy4 on December 1, 2011, 15:36 GMT

    well though i am india i will say wait this was only his first day in test cricket wait then make comments on him

  • Dummy4 on December 1, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    Copeland 100 wickets at 24. Starc 40 odd at 32. Pattinson has never got a 5fer with a red ball ever. Copeland and Cutting should both be playing ahead of Starc and Pattinson.

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