Australia news October 23, 2012

'Robust' Starc pushing to front of pace queue


Durability is among the most valued qualities in a fast bowler, and never more than during cricket's present era of multiple formats and greedy scheduling.

So to hear Mitchell Starc described as "robust" by Australia's pace bowling coach Ali de Winter may be a far more significant moment for the young left-armer's international future than any of the 14 wickets he has plucked at the Twenty20 Champions League.

De Winter has returned to Australia from his stint helping nationally contracted bowlers to prepare as best they can for the looming home Test summer.

He has done his best to minimise the effects of the aforementioned schedule, which had the likes of Starc, Ben Hilfenhaus, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood carted across to South Africa for the game's shortest format only a matter of weeks before they must be ready for the rigours of its longest.

Nevertheless, de Winter spoke with great optimism about the bowling stocks now before him, but was particularly glowing about Starc, who following a year of careful management and steady improvement across several tours and continents may be about to blossom into a first-choice member of Australia's Test match bowling attack.

"Mitchell Starc in particular has been outstanding," de Winter said in Hobart. "He's played a lot of cricket since the West Indies, he's been to England and played the A tour, Yorkshire, through the UAE and he's proved to be pretty robust for us, which is a good sign.

"It's a great problem to have that we've got a full bowling list at the moment. The challenge will be for the selectors to come up with the right mix for that first Test in particular. It is something we haven't experienced for a number of years to have a full list of bowlers."

Starc's time with Yorkshire during the English summer may be an important factor in the decisions around his readiness to take part in the Tests against South Africa. Hilfenhaus and Cummins are two other pace bowling options who have not bowled a red ball in a first-class match for quite some time. Hilfenhaus last did so in the West Indies in April, while Cummins must cast his mind back to the Johannesburg Test last November for his previous long-form encounter.

"I think Hilfy and a lot of others have been a bit short of a run in terms of red ball cricket," de Winter said. "We recognise that, but we've got some measures in place to make sure before that Test match they at least have one Shield game under their belt. The guys who have been here, James Pattinson and Peter Siddle have had an outstanding start to the year, so things are in as good a shape as they can be at this point."

The likely plan for Cummins will be to give him at least two Sheffield Shield matches for New South Wales before serious considering is given to pitching him back into the Test team, a schedule that would have him boarding a plane to Perth for the third Test against South Africa.

"We'd certainly like to see him playing Sheffield Shield cricket first and get his workload up," de Winter said. "Then it becomes a performance issue. Nobody's a given to be selected in any Test match, but certainly he's one who we'd like to see fast-tracked into Shield cricket and make sure when his opportunity comes that he's as ready as he can be, understanding he's still a teenager with a lot of growing and learning to do.

"We'll certainly manage our bowlers knowing we've got a six Test match summer followed by four in India and then of course the Ashes. The next 12-15 months are going to be really important."

So deep are Australia's pace bowling resources at the outset of the season that a bowler as accomplished as Luke Butterworth is unlikely to be considered. Butterworth's consistency and craft are well known to de Winter, the former Tasmania bowling coach, leaving him to hope that his former pupil can push for a berth on the Ashes tour in 2013.

"He keeps stacking up the numbers doesn't he, and over a long period of time," de Winter said. "I think he's probably someone you could consider in conditions that suit his style of bowling. He's a proven player of a long period of time and I'm sure he's on the radar. But it's a large group of bowlers so there's going to be a big challenge on.

"Based on performance Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Pattinson are the leading candidates to be selected, and that's just a common sense approach, given how well they did last summer and in the West Indies."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • GeoffreysMother on October 26, 2012, 16:05 GMT

    Starc certainly improved a great deal under Jason Gillespie's guidance at Yorkshire. As the season progressed there was much more discipline and consistency in his bowling. Mind you, as a Yorkshireman, I'd send him back next year to complete his education .... oh and leave Gillespie alone!

    Mind you what the Aussie Board are doing letting him and Cummings play in the Champions League before the S.A series is beyond me.

  • Andrew on October 24, 2012, 23:38 GMT

    @Chris_P on (October 24 2012, 17:49 PM GMT) - Starc did have a back problem not long after his ODI debut which set him back half a season. Since then, with reallly good management he has looked very fit & vital. I read somewhere, where they even log his sleeping patterns (i.e did he sleep well, or fitfully!). If the recent research is anything to go by, Starc will be precluded from Test selection if he doesn't play the Shield game as the step up in loading from short forms to long forms is when the injuries occur. I am also worried that he'll have almost just stepped off a plane & start bowling - which for a big bloke can't be good! Hope he is flying First Class & can do a few sprints & stretches in the centre isle on the way back! LOL!

  • Peter on October 24, 2012, 17:49 GMT

    @Meety. Agreed Starc brings a lot of variety & also that he needs more fc games. Really, with the talent available I haven't got any problems with any they select as long as they are in form, which they seem to be. Starc's action is very simple & he hasn't had any issues (to date) with injuries so another plus for him.

  • Dummy4 on October 24, 2012, 13:59 GMT

    Ben Hilfy, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Mitchel Johnson, Pat Cummings, James Pattinson, Mitchel Starc. Wonder who are they gonna pick, going to be interesting. McKay, Josh Hazelwood and Hastings doing well in the domestic tournament. Only worry for Aussies is the batting...

  • Peter on October 24, 2012, 9:22 GMT

    Just wanted to post my thoughts on the rotation policy of the fast bowlers. Personally I think it's stupid. In my view, you pick the three best seamers and your best spinner, and there you have your bowling attack, complemented by the all-rounder. Your back up bowlers all play Shield cricket so they stay fit and are ready to go should injuries or loss of form arise. It seems more detrimental to me to play someone like Pattinson for one game, then Starc, then Cummins. Based on last home season, our top 3 seamers are Siddle, Hilfy and Pattinson, so that's who you play until one of them loses form. The more that bowlers bowl, the less injuries they'll get over the long run.

  • Chithsabesh on October 24, 2012, 8:48 GMT

    Yes he is a good bowler this guy.But he and rest of aussies must remember. There is a certain Hashim Amla waiting in the shadows.He can make any bowler look ordinary.Go South Africa........

  • Andrew on October 24, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    @Tom_Loves_Cricket on (October 24 2012, 06:29 AM GMT) - what's even more interesting is, how far you have to go back to find a "dud" Test player from QLD. QLD (IMO), has the best success rate for State players moving onto decent test careers. Putting Harris & Watto to one side, you have to go back Nathan Hauritz in 2004 since QLD last got a Test player debuting. (Pretty sure Watto debuted out of Tassie?), I would say you have to go back to Robbie Kerr in 85/86 to find a QLDer that do a decent job at Test level. (Anybody that picks Scott Muller - his 7 wickets were at a S/R of 49.7) & Adam Dale got his 6 wickets in 2 Tests in India at an ave. of about 31. I think Burns or Cutting will be the next QLDer to wear the Baggy Green!

  • Thomas on October 24, 2012, 6:29 GMT

    I don't think Starc as of yet has the Test or First class experience to be picked in the Australian test side, I would like to see Ben Cutting or Butterworth be shown some incouragement for some recent good form, it surprises me how many Queensland players are overlooked seeing they won the shield last year.

  • Anver on October 24, 2012, 5:06 GMT

    A great prospect & future of Aus pace battery !!!! in a short period he had earned a lot of respect from his opponents... should be playing regularly for Aus !!!!

  • Andrew on October 24, 2012, 0:32 GMT

    @Chris_P on (October 23 2012, 19:21 PM GMT) - I agree re: Starc, but I have a few reservations about his lack of current FC cricket. He did very well in County cricket in Eng, but bowling was favourable. I think he is definately LOOKS like a better bowler than on his Test debut, I love the variety he will/would bring to the Oz line up, but would like to see him get a few shield wickets first. As I think Hilfy is in a similar position - I still think that the the 3rd seamers position will be a toss up between Starc & Hilfy, with Hilfy getting the nod. Injuries aside, I think what Patto & Siddle did to QLD at the Gabba, have got themselves rubber stamped for the 1st Test.

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