Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Perth, 3rd day November 15, 2015

Starc offers McMillan net challenge

Melinda Farrell at the WACA

Mitchell Starc cranked up the pace at the WACA © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Mitchell Starc has challenged New Zealand batting coach, Craig McMillan, to face him in the nets after McMillan questioned whether the left-arm quick had topped 160kph.

During a fiery spell after lunch on the third day Starc delivered the fastest recorded delivery in a Test; a searing yorker to Ross Taylor which was clocked by the Nine Network's speed gun at 160.4kph.

But McMillan, who faced the fastest recorded delivery in an ODI against Pakistan at Lahore in 2002, questioned the legitimacy of the technology.

"I don't know, maybe someone in the truck was having a bit of fun but that delivery came out of nowhere and looked pretty similar to a lot of deliveries throughout the day that were closer to 150 than 160," McMillan said.

"I'm not sure if maybe the wrong button was pushed, but you'd have to ask Rossco whether it felt 10kph quicker than any other delivery he faced."

McMillan was batting at No. 3 for New Zealand when he faced a Shoaib Akhtar delivery that was clocked by a sponsor's speed gun at 161kph.

"It felt more like 181 to be fair, Shoaib Akhtar at his quickest," joked McMillan. "No, it just felt like a normal delivery. It was in different circumstances. I'd have to say I was a bit surprised when it came up on the TV because a couple of the spinners' deliveries were quite high as well. Maybe there was a technical problem down in the truck."

When told of McMillan's comments, Starc fired back with cheeky challenge.

"Happy for him to face me in the nets tomorrow if he wants," he retorted with a decided smirk.

Regardless of the actual speed, Starc felt it was the fastest spell he's bowled to date. Operating from the Lillee Marsh End, he was consistently clocked above 150kph in a spell that tested the reflexes and nerve of Taylor and Brendon McCullum. The speeds displayed on the big screen at the WACA roused a crowd that had been subdued, like Australia's bowling attack, by the brilliant 265-run partnership between Taylor and Kane Williamson which had brought New Zealand back into the contest.

"I was trying to bowl quick. It was nice to have a nice run-up in and not have to jump up to the square, have a nice breeze" Starc said. "It was all sort of working nicely for the left-armers at this end. Nice to have some rhythm, have the ball coming out nicely. Unfortunately I couldn't get a couple of wickets to go with it."

He should have had more reward for his exertions. Nathan Lyon, fielding at third slip, failed to hold a thick McCullum edge, while Mitchell Marsh, diving in the gully, couldn't reel in a more difficult chance offered by Taylor the ball after Starc had pushed 160kph.

"They're always frustrating aren't they?" Starc said. "It was disappointing not to hold our chances. On a wicket like this it's important that we do. Nobody means to drop catches but when the wicket's this flat and the Kiwis are batting as well as they are it's important we take our chances."

Although Marsh made amends, somewhat, by bowling McCullum for 27, Taylor made the most of his reprieve to finish the day unbeaten on 235.

"They batted really well," Starc said. "Take nothing away from them. They're class players. The wicket's really good to bat on, so I think both sides have found it quite hard to contain the batting team. At different points of the game we've built pressure really well and then haven't taken that chance, or that chance hasn't come."

New Zealand head into the fourth day just 49 runs short of what had seemed an unreachable Australia total of 9 for 559 and Starc was cautious about predicting a result rather than a draw.

"It depends on how it's played in the morning," he said. "We're going to have to come out and try and take those wickets and it'll be interesting to see how the Kiwis will approach the morning session, whether there's a declaration or they chase quick runs. The wicket's really nice, so it'll take a lot but we'll see."

Melinda Farrell is a reporter for ESPNcricinfo

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