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'Robust' Starc pushing to front of pace queue

Daniel Brettig

October 23, 2012

Comments: 27 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Starc picked up two wickets, Mumbai Indians v Sydney Sixers, Champions League T20, Durban, October 22, 2012
Mitchell Starc is developing a reputation for durability as well as wicket-taking © Getty Images
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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

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Posted by 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.

Posted by Meety 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!

Posted by Chris_P 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.

Posted by   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...

Posted by peeeeet 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.

Posted by Last_ride 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........

Posted by Meety 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!

Posted by Tom_Loves_Cricket 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.

Posted by anver777 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 !!!!

Posted by Meety 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.

Posted by MinusZero on (October 24, 2012, 0:16 GMT)

Am glad Butterworth is finally being mentioned

Posted by Vishnu27 on (October 23, 2012, 23:39 GMT)

@R_U_4_REAL_NICK: not sure where you hail from, but you do not have a good handle on Australian bowling stocks. McKay will play limited overs, Johnson for WA, & sadly Ryan Harris is injured & who's return will be very closely managed, with a possible return for the SL series. The basis of the Australian pace attack will be rightfully structured around Hilfenhaus & Siddle (barring injury). These two bowler's willful decimation of India here last summer seems to have escaped you. Watson will provide able support (hopefully only a maximum of no more than 20-25 overs a match). The third pace spot will most likely be one of Pattison, Starc & Cummins (in that order currently). Much to like about our current pace format & make up. Injury management this summer is obviously paramount in light of previous summers.

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (October 23, 2012, 20:39 GMT)

What do you mean only "moving up the queue"? I thought he was an absolute shoe-in. Starc, McKay and Lyon should be the first bowlers on the team sheet; Watson can bowl a few overs; Clarke can use himself a little; Siddle/Harris/Hilfy/Hauritz can fight over the remaining bowling spot. Why Johnson, Cummins and Pattinson are being considered for test cricket is beyond me. Four overs is their limit before they're injured / batted out of the attack.

Posted by Chris_P on (October 23, 2012, 19:21 GMT)

@Steven Andrews. Actually, from what I have seen, Starc is potentially a better longer form bowler. His fc figures are on the improve after a somewhat shaky beginning & has always looked dangerous with the ball in hand when he bowled for NSW, he just didn't get the rewards for his bowling, so, although surprised he was selected last season wasn't too surprised at his performances.. I really hope the selectors look after him for the tests in future. One day bowlers are basically there to keep runs down, we have plenty of those types, not too many can take wickets, but that is the nature of the one day game.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2012, 18:04 GMT)

Starc bowled extremely well in 20/20 tounament so far...he bowled like a TEST BOWLER SHOULD which just shows once you bowl well and have pace you can bowl in any format of the game remember McGrath at his best he had little pace but bowled consistent line and length with small movement off the seam. Starc bowling has reminded me a bit of this except Starc getting swing and has pace and so far controlling it well. HOWEVER if anyone examines Starc's action will realize he cannot last he will damage his back. There have been a few young tearaway pacers recently like him but all of them have injured themselves because nobody corrected their action at a younger age so with that delivery stride and action they will be prone to injury.

Posted by Naresh28 on (October 23, 2012, 15:06 GMT)

Oz fast bowlers stocks are now in good order. They are now ready to challenge that number 1 spot since Glen Mcgrath retired. Yes and definitely Stark is up there.

Posted by   on (October 23, 2012, 14:05 GMT)

@vicnicolas: Ur knowledge of Indian cricket don't seem to be that bad either. You see we in India like the way the Aussies take tests seriously and would love to have a similar structure. Considering that aspect and the mental aspect of the longer version Chappel and then Waugh have instilled since, Australians are the reason why I love cricket and so do a lot of other Indians. This season I would love to see Watson peform well against a high quality pace attack and would also like to see talented guys like Ferguson, Cooper, Maddinson, Hughes coming into the frame of things soon on the basis of 1st class performances. The pace depth is unbelievable and I disagree with pankaj on 2 spinners & Mitchell Marsh. If they play 4 seamers they should be the best four bowlers in the team and the latter is'nt quite ready for Test cricket.

Posted by SICHO on (October 23, 2012, 13:56 GMT)

Mitchell Starc is a very good bowler no doubt, but T20s are way too different from Test cricket. Facing the likes of Kallis and Amla in T20 is very different from facing them in Test cricket. I just don't get the point why people start having all these ideas of him being a good Test bowler, yes he has the ability and the skill but he still needs to perform in Test cricket to prove that. Until he does that I'm still not convinced of him being a good Test bowler. So people must stop using T20 performances for Test selection.

Posted by Hammond on (October 23, 2012, 13:14 GMT)

The thing that impresses me is the round the wicket bowling (taught to him by a Pakistani master). He reminds me of Sidebottom in his absolute prime. If Starc ends up with a better test average than Ryan Sidebottom he will be doing well. Not in the Davo category just yet, but he has promise!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2012, 13:06 GMT)

I just dont rate Starc in the longer format of the game. he has a great short form record i give that, but alot of wickets are from batsman trying to belt him. this doesnt happen in test match cricket and even his shield figures show this, although not bad at an Ave of almost 33, i would have thought at shield level this would have to be alot better. I think at this stage he is a short form bowler and not ready for test match cricket. I want to see the young Batsman around Australia demand selection by scoring big runs. this is our weakness is the fact no one is really demanding selection. Yes spin is an issue but i think our batting is our issue and there arent any signs of it getting better

Posted by stormy16 on (October 23, 2012, 10:42 GMT)

I think Starc has been sensational and has pace and can swing it in and will be hard to leave out. I also think Cimmins should not be rushed in for the SA series - the guy is still a kid and Aus has plenty on the bench. The last thing you want is to tax this guy to play test cricket and end up with another injury. There are 3 more tests this summer to consider Cummins. Not sure where Ryan Harris and Mitchel Johnson are, but they could both come in to the picture if they perform at shield level. Throw in Steyn, Morkel and Philander - there will be no room for the faint hearted batter this summer!

Posted by Meety on (October 23, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

@Beertjie on (October 23 2012, 10:10 AM GMT) - I think the selectors (given some of the articles on here), will be really monitoring workload of younger bowlers, & so I would imagine that Oz would be unlikely to select 2 young pacers in the probable 3 specialist spots. Meaning, that Siddle, Harris (if fit), & Hilfy are possibly vying for 2 spots & the likes of Cummins, Starc & Patto are vying for the other spot (assuming we have a spinner). All hypothetical!

Posted by   on (October 23, 2012, 10:22 GMT)

@Sachin_Pankaj: Your knowledge of Australian First Class cricketers is astounding mate! Let's hope some or all of those players you mentioned make the grade, as it will be very exciting times for Australian cricket. I think Unmukt Chand is ready to be selected for India...he is a future superstar!

Posted by Beertjie on (October 23, 2012, 10:10 GMT)

It's not quite right that we have "a full list of bowlers", Ali. Ryan Harris is till out and although you're right that "Nobody's a given to be selected in any Test match", he has to play if he's fit and firing. Who then to leave out? Well given the need for someone to lead the attack (i.e. provide experience for the young guns) my pick would be Siddle and 2 or 3 others. When Ryno is back, Sids may have to make way depending on how the younger brigade goes. Of course you want continuity, too, but given the breakdown rate some form of rotation is a given. I'd go for 4 quicks at the Gabba and leave out the one who's least good at reverse for AO. Give Butterworth a go (together with Cutting and McDermot) for the A game.

Posted by Hammond on (October 23, 2012, 9:53 GMT)

Starc is legitimately a potential great for Australia. Born in my home suburb. Go Baulko!

Posted by Emancipator007 on (October 23, 2012, 9:25 GMT)

Shows how competition & depth in a particular cricketing skill (like with batting resources in India) compels cricketers to push themselves.Starc was 7th in line after Siddle,Hilfy,Harris,Pattinson,Cummins,Johnson a year ago. Now with high pace coupled with his already superb swing bowling skills, he is straining to get into the first- 4 pack. I am waiting for the day when Patty (the next McGrath -with pace!- if he keeps his head which gets scrambled when hit),Harris,Starc & Cummins as a pack like Caribbean pacers of yore steam in at 90 mph plus at Perth,Brisbane,Durban,Mohali etc.Nothing like a 4-man express pace attack (no need for Lyon) to rev up interest in international cricket & this young quartet's (barring Harris & never having seen Hazelwood, don't know who pacy he is) tussle with equally competitive,talented,skilled batting line-up of Kohli,Rohit,Pujara,Rahane in future Indo-OZ series would be tantalizing & set the ball rolling for Waugh-Ganguly teams'-like titanic series.

Posted by QingdaoXI on (October 23, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

With Starch, Cummins, Pattinson, Hazelwood, Counter-Nile, Bird all in good form it will be hard for Siddle and Hilfy to perform continuosly, Johnson and Bollinger are outdated now. So new Brigade Should get the chance now and Aussies should play Watson and M,Marsh both in the squad so if conditions demands they can also play 2 spinners in the team. Steven o Keffe desreve his chance with Lyon. In batting Warner is like Sehwag, one good innings and after that you all know what??, Watto cant convert 50's into 100. Cowan is not much experienced so all comes on Clarke to lead the batting with Old giants Ponting and Hussey. Hope this will be Pontings farewll series as he has passed his prime but Mr. Cricket can play another year or 2 before he takes same decision, S.Marsh, Hughes, Khawaja, Maddinson, Patterson, Bosito all should be in line to grab the places in batting order in near future.

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Daniel BrettigClose
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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