Australia news November 17, 2015

Starc's spell the changing of the guard

Mitchell Starc's speed during New Zealand's first innings at the WACA indicated a changing of the guard © Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Well before Mitchell Johnson chose to tell team-mates of his decision to retire, Australia's fast bowling mentor Craig McDermott felt the changing of the guard had already taken place.

Mitchell Starc's terrifying and sustained spell with the second new ball on the third afternoon, challenging a well entrenched New Zealand batting line-up and defying the exceedingly docile nature of the WACA Ground pitch, told McDermott that he was ready to take over as the new spearhead of the Australian attack.

Combined with Johnson's fading force, the maturing of Starc as a Test bowler has left Australia more at ease about Johnson's decision to retire than they might otherwise have been. With the likes of James Pattinson waiting in the wings, Australia are well stocked for speed.

"If anything we saw the changing of the guard here two days ago, with Mitchell Starc bowling consistently 150-odd kilometres an hour," McDermott said. "And for me sitting back and watching that it was like the changing of the guard for me and hopefully Mitchell Starc can have as an illustrious a career as Mitchell Johnson has.

"I think he [Starc] has been building towards that. It has taken some time. He has brought that control and that speed through the shorter format of the game. He has now proven he can do that on a very docile wicket which is more than heartening for us as a team and certainly probably for Mitchell to give him some really good confidence going forward as well. I look forward to watching him over the next 10 years."

The way Starc made New Zealand's batsmen hop about on a pitch offering him only the scantest of assistance is something else McDermott was happy to see, for it seems increasingly likely that such beige surfaces are the lot of fast bowlers, even in Australia. McDermott was careful with his words, but agreed the pitches in Brisbane and Perth were nothing like the swift strips they had once been.

"I am just trying not to lose my job ... the wickets been reasonably friendly," McDermott said. "The balls haven't been the best, I think we've only changed 11. That's not too bad is it, hopefully they have got the design right for the pink one come next week. Different series bring different wickets. We go back to 1994-95 when we had Warnie, our wickets were pretty dry and spin friendly, it is one of those things.

"We have got the best pace attack in the world and we come to our first two wickets and they are not really what they should be. It's one of those things you've got to deal with as a player, we won in Brisbane on a wicket that wasn't as good as it has been in the past and this wicket has been more like a one day wicket than a Test wicket, I think there's been 184 fours I saw on the TV, that's astronomical as far as any bowler's concerned."

As Australia wrestled with New Zealand on the final day, Pattinson was producing a spell of pace and wickets for Victoria in the concurrent Sheffield Shield match at the MCG. McDermott has worked closely with Pattinson down the years, and said he felt the 25-year-old was ready to return, while also mentioning Peter Siddle and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

"Obviously Sidds is still in the 12 for these Tests so he comes back into contention, and he's been bowling beautifully with good pace and swing in the ball," McDermott said. "You've got other younger guys, there's James Pattinson and Nathan Coulter-Nile who's back bowling again and I was involved with him here the other day and he bowled quite quick and with good swing with the ball.

"Patto's one of the best bowlers in the country. We just have to make sure certainly from a workload point of view, if you are going to go the technical side, he has got enough numbers up there to play Test cricket, from that side of it. We just have to make sure he is bowling well, first and foremost, which I think he has in this last Shield game by all reports."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig