Starc more feared than Steyn, Morkel - Bailey
It was less than three months ago that Mitchell Starc was the subject of some stinging criticism from Shane Warne. Starc, Warne said during the Gabba Test against India, needed to have stronger body language. He looked a bit soft, Warne reckoned, although he later tried to clarify his comments. Whatever the case, it was not a ringing endorsement.
Consistent success in Test cricket might have eluded Starc, but in the white-ball game he is bowling as well as anyone in the world. He is equal second on the wicket tally this World Cup with 12 victims, and his average of 10.16 is the best of anyone with more than two wickets. His economy rate of 3.77 is the best of any fast bowler who has played more than two games.
Starc's success has largely been down to swing and accuracy. His ability to curl the white ball has been second to none in this tournament, and his habit of delivering the perfect yorker has rattled plenty of stumps. Asked if Starc was as feared in the death overs as the likes of Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, George Bailey was unequivocal.
"I would say he's more feared," Bailey said on Tuesday. "I think he's got some really specific skills at the death that very few guys in the world I reckon are able to produce.
"That would be weighing on teams' minds. If he's doing that really well, and James Faulkner's skill at the death - Patty Cummins and Joshy Hazlewood do it really well too - then teams don't know when it is that time to launch, and you can put a bit of pressure on them a bit earlier."
Starc has collected 12 for 122 in this World Cup and his six-for against New Zealand at Eden Park nearly delivered Australia a remarkable victory. Already this year he has collected two six-wicket hauls in ODIs, an achievement no other Australians have matched in their entire careers, and Bailey said Starc's current form was a major boost for Australia.
"It comes as no surprise, personally," Bailey said. "We've seen that ability in him for many years. He's had patches where he's put it together, and the really pleasing thing is he's just been really consistent with it. In many respects he's earned the right now to get the new ball and bowl at the end he wants, that best helps his swing and what not. He's certainly come on in leaps and bounds.
"I'm just really proud of how consistent he has become, because the player he is and the impact he can have we were seeing glimpses of that once or twice a series, but for him to be able to put that on the park consistently is just huge. It's making a real impact for us."
Surprisingly given the swinging conditions that often prevail at Bellerive Oval, Starc's ODI history in Hobart has not been as impressive. In his two previous matches at the venue he has collected a total of 1 for 108 from 19 overs, although he will fancy his chances against Scotland when Australia play their final group match in Hobart on Saturday.
The Australians will convene in Hobart on Wednesday after the players were given two days off following their defeat of Sri Lanka in Sydney on Sunday. Should they beat Scotland they will finish second in Pool A.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale