Australia v Sri Lanka, 2nd Test, Melbourne December 21, 2012

Starc lifted by 'heart and soul' Siddle

Peter Siddle is taking on the mantle of leadership and example among Australia's bowlers that - until recently - Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey held for the batsmen.

Mitchell Starc attributed his much improved display on the final day of the Hobart Test against Sri Lanka to being lifted by Siddle's efforts, which matched his Herculean display against South Africa in Adelaide.

A prodigious talent, Starc is pleasing Australia's selectors, coaches and the captain Michael Clarke by gathering in consistency and nous each time he bowls in a Test, and also by staying fit when so many around him are falling prey to injury.

His fiendish burst of reverse swing on an uneven final day surface at Bellerive Oval was arguably Starc's best display to for his country to date, and he put much of it down to watching Siddle give his all in the spell that preceded it.

"Sidds was outstanding again in Hobart and was pretty much the heart and soul of the attack," Starc said. "For me just to follow on from him, I played pretty much a supporting role with Sidds there probably deserving 10 wickets. Not just the bowlers [are lifted by Siddle], the whole team is.

"Having him around the squad he's full of energy and he's always giving 100% whether it be in the nets or in the field and that drags the whole squad along. As he's shown in Adelaide, though unfortunately not getting over the line there, but again in Hobart pretty similar performances where he's given absolutely everything he's had. He's sat down and had nothing left after the game. It was great for him we got that result after what happened in Adelaide.

"When you have guys like Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey in the squad they bring so much energy and a different feel to the group. I think Sidds is well on the way to being someone like that, who just lifts everyone up. When he's on bowling you know something most likely is going to happen."

Starc's progress has been helped greatly by his developing durability, which has allowed him to be fit for selection whenever Australia's selectors have come calling over the past 12 months. By avoiding the treatment table, Starc is gathering in knowledge about his bowling, aided by advice from the likes of Wasim Akram, Jason Gillespie and the Australian bowling coaches past and present, Craig McDermott and Ali de Winter.

"That consistency is coming. I've got to find that balance between being over aggressive and containing one end. That will come, I'm still learning, I'm only 22," Starc said. "I'm taking it all in my stride and learning from each game. That's something we did from the game in Perth - I went for a few runs there.

"In Hobart we had 450 runs on the board so you can afford to be a bit aggressive there. As you saw I went for a couple of runs but we got the win in the end so we can take some confidence from that and being able to get that result even with a bowler down as well.

"Injuries are unfortunate, they seem to go hand in hand with fast bowling. I'm looking after myself doing all I can to stay on the park and make sure I'm recovering well and playing well. You can't worry too much about what the other guys are doing. Can't worry too much about what the others are doing but we're all preparing the way we can and stay on the park."

Despite his strong last-day form in Hobart, Starc may yet find himself carrying the drinks on Boxing Day in order to ensure he maintains his run of games without injury, the better to be fit for his home Test at the SCG from January 3. Mitchell Johnson and Jackson Bird are both a chance of being called into the Test side for the final match of 2012. However Starc is eager to bowl at the MCG, having also run the drinks in the corresponding match last year.

"It's always a big occasion the Boxing Day Test. If I get the nod to play for Australia again it's going to be a nice one to run out in front of a big crowd," Starc said. "Hopefully I can contribute again if I get the chance in Melbourne."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here