Australia v West Indies, 1st ODI, Perth

Starc spurred by ankle doubts

Daniel Brettig

February 1, 2013

Comments: 15 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Starc consistently troubled West Indies' batsmen, Australia v West Indies, 1st ODI, Perth, February 1, 2013
Mitchell Starc: "It all came together today, I felt very smooth and had enough pace" © Getty Images
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Having bowled as irresistibly as he did against West Indies at the WACA, it's little wonder that Mitchell Starc is earnestly hoping a bone spur in his ankle will not worsen to the point of requiring surgery during Australia's manic 2013 schedule.

Starc has already chosen to forego this year's IPL in order to rest after the forthcoming tour of India ahead of the Ashes. Now, after his frighteningly fast and swerving 5 for 20 to rout West Indies for 70, he conveyed his desire to put off surgery for as long as possible. A procedure to clean out the problem would require about three months in recovery - time Starc and Australia simply do not have this year.

"It's a calcification to protect the bone through the force the ankle cops when bowling, but obviously causes a bit of pain," Starc said in Perth. "You can feel it when you push on it, but it's not affecting my bowling at the moment. It's not something I want to go under the knife for and miss up to three months to clean it up, missing the time bowling and having to build yourself up.

"Three seasons ago I had two spurs in the same ankle and played two thirds of the season with it, so it's not an issue we're all worried about at the moment and I'm happy to play with it."

There have been a few times so far in his young career when Starc has looked unplayable, and this was one such day. Moving the ball at high pace and landing the ball repeatedly on a line and length to discomfort the best batsmen, much of Starc's bowling seemed wasted on a West Indies batting line-up that has been in Australia little more than a week and warmed up with a festival match on the Manuka Oval featherbed.

"There have been days when I've bowled a lot worse and taken more wickets," Starc said. "It all came together today, I felt very smooth and had enough pace but there was enough in the wicket also.

"You get that extra bounce and carry in Perth, we wanted to hit the stumps as often as we could and needed to get that fuller length. Sometimes the execution isn't quite there, but today all the bowlers executed very well.

"What we've spoken about is shortening the gap between our very good, like today, and our not so good, a bit of which you saw against Sri Lanka. If we can keep winning and closing that gap, we'll go a long way towards achieving our goals."

West Indies captain Darren Sammy did not concede he had erred by choosing to bat first, instead suggesting his batsmen should have re-adjusted their goals for a decent score once they had witnessed a few overs of the ball zipping around.

"It's disappointing, we know the plans and the goals we had for this tour, obviously it didn't start the way we wanted, but it's just the first game of a five-match series," Sammy said. "We've got to come back stronger on Sunday, dust ourselves off and believe we can be successful against them.

"We've had battles against Australia in the past, the last series at home they similarly won the first game very easily and we came back strongly for the rest of the series. We know we have the ability to bounce back, and that's what I'm going to tell the boys. Yes it's going to be hard to wipe what happened from the memory, but we've had good games against them and we'll think about the positive things."

Sammy took one point of solace from the debut of the tall young fast bowler Jason Holder, who extracted steep bounce and some movement though defending a pitiful total.

"In spite of what [Glenn] Maxwell was doing, coming hard at him, he kept his cool and bowled in some very good areas," Sammy said. "That's a plus for us and hopefully we can have much more runs to defend in the next game."

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

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Posted by Moppa on (February 3, 2013, 2:02 GMT)

@landl47, what you are saying makes sense, but I think it is also true that most bowlers find it easier to reverse swing the ball in one direction, which is typically the opposite direction to their conventional swing, e.g. Hilfenhaus can reverse the ball into the right hander but I've not seen him do the opposite. I *think* it is also correct to say this about Starc, which would sit well with what @Mitty2 said - but I could be wrong. Of course, when bowlers can reverse swing the ball in either direction, things get ugly for the batsman - think Wasim Akram, or more recently what Flintoff and Jones did in 2005 - devastating stuff, Simon Katich probably still has nightmares about those two.

Posted by landl47 on (February 2, 2013, 17:04 GMT)

@Moppa: you might be right about what Mitty meant, but what he said was that reverse would make the ball swing even more into the left-hander and away from the right-hander, which to me implies that Starc normally swings the ball into the left-hander and away from the right-hander and reverse would increase the amount of swing. 'Reverse' doesn't mean the ball swings the other way, it means that the ball swings with the shiny side on the reverse side to conventional swing. Away swing bowlers don't become inswingers, they just hold the ball the opposite way to get their regular swing. Those who can swing the ball both ways with control are pretty rare- Praveen Kumar for India did it consistently in England in 2011, which is why it's a pity he's been almost constantly injured since then. I haven't seen Starc bowl a ball swinging the other way and the way Herath bats, straight would be good enough!

I do think Starc will be a great (not good) bowler, the best L/H since Wasim Akram.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 2, 2013, 9:34 GMT)

@ GeoffreysMother : I'm not convinced about Cummings at all. His action looks wild and woolly and probably the reason he's always injured. I will feel a lot better about his prospects if he can manage to stay on the paddock for a couple of seasons on the trot but I reckon that is a long shot. ... I agree that a stint in county cricket would do him a world of good in that he will have to find a way to cope with the daily grind. .. I think the line-up we should have for England (for the Tests) is Pattinson, Starc, Siddle, Bird and God help us, Lyon. However, given our recent record of injuries that might not be too likely to actually happen. .... re our commentators. Try not to take them too seriously, nobody here does. James Brayshaw is easily the worst. A never was wrapped up in a know nothing in my opinion.

Posted by GeoffreysMother on (February 2, 2013, 8:42 GMT)

dunger.bob Starc played at Yorkshire last year, under Jason Gillespie. At first he bowled all over the place with the Duke- but he got better and better as his time there went on. I think he will be the main threat to England in the Ashes - especially to Cook. He seems to be a nice lad with his head screwed on but he is young and Australia need to be careful not to overbowl him. I would use him with Siddle and Patterson in the Tests, rotate him with Patterson in 1 dayers and keep him away from T20's. Cummings is an exciting prospect - but at the moment he is just that. I would have him do a season under an Aussie coach in County Cricket with an agreement on the amount he bowls (well away from the spotlight). Let him learn his craft before your commentators build him up as an all time great.

Posted by dunger.bob on (February 2, 2013, 7:36 GMT)

I've noticed that Starc swings the white ball more readily than the red one. In tests he tends to bowl pretty straight until the ball scuffs up and starts reversing. It's not always the case but is a bit of a trend. .. it will be very interesting to see how he goes with the Duke ball in England. Many pundits reckon the duke swings more than the Kookaburra so it would be very handy if he get early swing in Ashes tests. Either way he is an exciting prospect and IF he can get through this bone spur thing the Poms might get a rude shock. Let's hope so, they deserve it. .... re Holder. He has a lovely, smooth action and as Meety say's, he does look like Ambrose, minus the scowl at this stage. He could be a good-un and I would love to see the Windies right back into the mix again. Cricket needs them at somewhere near their dangerous best.

Posted by Moppa on (February 2, 2013, 6:12 GMT)

@land47, I think @Mitty2 said the ball would *reverse* into the left-handed batsman, which is correct. E.g. he got prodigious reverse swing at Hobart v SL in the Test, in particular into Herath. You are also correct that his conventional swing moves away from the leftie and into the rightie, as seen yesterday in Perth. Agree with @Meety, Starc's high arm should make him more accurate than Johnson, but in my opinion he presently is a bit too inconsistent in length, resulting in some leaking of runs. I think he just needs to lift the standard of his bad days a bit to make it a no brainer to keep him in the team ready for one of his devastatingly good days - he's on the way but can improve plenty I think.

Posted by landl47 on (February 2, 2013, 5:31 GMT)

I've been saying for a long time that Starc looks a very good prospect and he's getting better and better. I hope this bone spur doesn't do him serious damage; Simon Jones, who bowled so well in the Ashes in 2005, missed the last test (the only change England made during the entire series, so much for rotation!) with a bone spur and never played for England again. I'm not suggesting this will happen to Starc and I certainly hope he'll maintain his progress, he was awesome in this game.

@Mitty2: unless you're using the terms in a different way than usual, you're got Starc's swing backwards. He swings the ball away from the left-handers (a ball on off stump will swing towards the slips) and into right-handers- a ball on off stump will hit leg, as Sarwan found out. I haven't seen him swing one the other way, though some hold their line. At his pace, that's just fine.

Posted by Chris_P on (February 2, 2013, 2:56 GMT)

@Meety, If you want a good chuckle, go back & read what some have posted about Starc when first selected against NZ a season ago. If they only took the time to watch these guys in action before posting, half these columns would disappear with the overall standard raised!

Posted by Peterincanada on (February 2, 2013, 0:18 GMT)

@mitty2 I think Starc has the ability to be devastating in English conditions. Starc has the potential to exceed Johnson because of his much better action. He will become less wayward with experience whereas Johnson will always have a tendency to spray the ball.

Posted by Meety on (February 1, 2013, 13:09 GMT)

@Mitty2 on (February 01 2013, 12:26 PM GMT)- quick note, I meant to say "...the average performance up closer to his HIGHS..." - I must have a man-crush - LOL! The impressive thing about Starc is the height he gets from his delivery arm, compared to MJ who is part-round arm. So I think Starc does have a better platform for maintained performance. Gee, if he gets it right in England he could do a heck of a lot of damage. @Rohit_Pande on (February 01 2013, 12:14 PM GMT) - I am hoping he (Holder) is Curtly mkII!!!!

Posted by Mary_786 on (February 1, 2013, 13:00 GMT)

Meety apparently Starc has been doing some work with Lillee this week, perhaps the legendary Lillee is already improving his bowling.

Posted by Mitty2 on (February 1, 2013, 12:26 GMT)

@meety agree with you on the johno/starc stance, but starc seems just that bit better in every facet. Both can be devastating but just as equally expensive and wayward. Regardless of the fact that starc is currently bowling no less than 5km/h faster than Johnson and extracts more bounce from his height, the main reason I see more ability and potential greatness in starc is his ability to swing the bowl. Johnson's seam obviously prevents swing. But the seam position starc presents is kind of angled diagonally torwards the left, so with reverse it would swing even more into the left handed and away from the right hander. And if the conditions suit it, (as we say today) he has mass destructive potential with the new ball. A flaw in the tests was his inability to bowl accurately and swing the new ball with control, in fact he got more swing with the older bowl so whether he can transfer his proven limited overs bowling to the primary format remains to be seen, but I'm more than backing him

Posted by Sunil_Batra on (February 1, 2013, 12:14 GMT)

Agree Meety, Starc is getting better every game and i liked what i saw from Holder, he could be a real talent for the Windies

Posted by Meety on (February 1, 2013, 11:26 GMT)

Man when Starc gets it right, there is hardly a bowler that comes near him. So true that he just has to bring the average performance up closer to his eyes - other wise he is MJ mk II. == == == Sad place for Sammy to be, at least he fronted up & he is right, Holder does look the goods.

Posted by Jayzuz on (February 1, 2013, 11:12 GMT)

I saw Starc bowl when I went to the 1st T20 game vs SL, and he was seriously sharp there. I couldn't believe how far the slips and keeper were standing back, and that was on a stodgy wicket! He seems to have upped his pace, getting mid to high 140s at present. It's not the speed gun, because Johnson is still the same as usual, about the same pace - Starc used to be 5+ kms/hr slower. I agree Holder looked good, and seems to have a mature head on him - and seems like he can bat a bit. So he might be a handful for AUS in the upcoming games. A throwback to the 2m tall fastbowlers of bygone WI teams.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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