Australia in India 2010 September 24, 2010

Mitch and Mitch, which is which?

Mitchell Starc, the 20-year-old from New South Wales, is almost a Mitchell Johnson clone

Mitchell Johnson's action is not easily repeatable. Wrong. Just come to the Australia nets on their tour of India, and look at the other Mitchell bowl. Starc, the 20-year-old quick from New South Wales, is almost a Johnson clone.

He is tall, seven centimetres more than Johnson, has shortish, black hair, bowls left-arm quick. And then there is the load-up that gives it away. His left arm goes low, he stops for a split second before the crease, and you see that the original Mitchell is actually bowling in the other net. Rub your eyes. Then you look closely, and you can make out the differences. Starc is more high-arm, and his action is slightly more repeatable.

Johnson, who met Starc for the first time on this tour, acknowledges the similarities. "The action looks similar," Johnson says. "He is a lot taller in the action. He has got a bit of sling. He has got pace - low 140s to mid 140s."

Johnson has more flattering things to say. "I have seen him on TV once or twice. He has got it all - the height, the pace, the bounce, the swing. The raw material is there, he just needs to fine-tune things. He has a bit of a rawness about him, but you want to leave that in. It will be a good tour for him, and he will be looking forward to learn as much as he can from myself and Doug [Bollinger], us being left-armers." Starc's first impression wasn't too bad. In the nets, albeit on greenish and damp pitches, he troubled every batsman.

The beauty of it all, though, is that Starc never consciously modelled his action on anyone. Five years ago, in fact, he was a wicketkeeper. "[Maybe] Troy Cooley [the bowling coach] is the common factor. He has worked with both of us," Starc says. "Don't think I modelled my action exactly on him. I didn't try and copy anyone in particular. Both left-arm. But he is not the worst guy to be compared to. He is a world-class bowler."

Starc can point out differences, though. "We are both reasonably tall," he says. "Mitch bowls quicker than me. I am taller than him. I concentrate more on my bounce, compared to him. People draw comparisons to our load-ups."

Starc says people told him of the similarities when he made his first-class debut in March 2009. "I wasn't too fazed by it," he says. "I am still trying to stay natural and [do] what works for me. I am not trying to be Mitchell Johnson, I am trying to be Mitchell Starc. I don't think I can set out to bowl like Mitch. I try to stay natural and athletic."

Given Bollinger is playing the Champions League Twenty20 in South Africa for the Chennai Super Kings, there is every chance Starc might get to bowl in the three-day game against Board President's XI in Chandigarh, starting Saturday. There could be a Mitch at each end, bowling like the other. It promises to be a sight.

Sidharth Monga is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Tim on September 30, 2010, 2:14 GMT

    I am unsure of what the Aus selectors are trying to achieve in selecting Mitchell Starc. Picking him for one of the toughest tours in world cricket after just over a yr of first class cricket is maddness. On another note, personally I rather see players banging the door down for selection via, extremely successful domestic campaigns eg: loads of runs & wickets. Starc hasnt done this and i would much rather see somebody like Brett Geeves a constant & consistant performer over various years be rewarded with a tour. Starc will not play any part in the series, hope for starc's sake, he likes carrying drinks.

  • Allan on September 28, 2010, 5:56 GMT

    Was a bit vehement in my denunciation and should have said he failed against SA in Aus. Which is even worse in my book. He seemed to find a bit of form in SA but it was mostly due to a worn out SA side who were at the end of a grueling period including that amazing series victory in Aus. So I don't count that for a lot. He's been a flat-out failure ever since, except against Pak & WI who tend to self destruct regularly. Even Brydon Coverdale said he's a frustrating bowler and that Bollinger would be taking over soon as the spearhead. Make that code for garbage, since he can't say that online, but maybe you call that "rubbish talk" as well!

  • Anthony on September 27, 2010, 22:36 GMT

    Oh dear what a "Masterclass" in talking rubbish. Yes indeed Mitchell Johnson did struggle against South Africa in South Africa. Leading wicket taker in the series with 16 (in a three match series) at an average of 25.00, Shocker.

  • Allan on September 27, 2010, 2:48 GMT

    @Richard Bradstock - BTW his figures against Pak in England were 3 for 217. This is against a side that was practically begging to give away their wicket. In fact they were probably paid to do it (lol). And yet he flopped big time. You don't have to be a genius to do the math bud. His 150 is against pathetic tests sides like Pak, NZ and WI. He failed in SA, and failed in India, and failed in Eng!!

  • Allan on September 27, 2010, 2:42 GMT

    @Richard Bradstock - It's amazing how often MJ gets wickets of bad balls. All I have ever seen him do is bowl his diagonal across line 2.5 feet outside off stump. No variation what so ever. Aus commentators always talk about MJ searching for swing but I have NEVER seen him swing the ball. His arm, wrist and seam position are atrocious. He is the most overrated bowler to ever play cricket by a huge margin. I believe there are plenty of posts here and elsewhere that say as much, by both Aus and other supporters. So it's not a biased thing, just facts.

  • Philip on September 26, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    Couldn't Mitch Mark II (or should that be Mitch Mark III, remembering a Son of Swampy also goes by the name of Mitchell-flavour-of-the-month) be the second somebody else instead? Simon Davis would do. At least Davis knew how to not bowl wides and, come to think of it, his batting was more consistent too, than a certain Mitch Johnson Esquire, the pin-up boy who pins his ears back and lets rip - where? Well, I don't think he knows half the time either, with bat or ball. Starc should be himself, as long as that is rather more mature than one or two others out there in youth-obsessed and NSW-obsessed culture.

  • gohar on September 26, 2010, 10:26 GMT

    although current Australian pace attack is no match to there former pace attack but still australian fast bowlers are way ahead of indian medium pacers, if anybody have any doubt he can check the statistics, but indian spin attack is very good and as usual they will try to make spin friendly tracks or tracks which are dead on first three days and than it helps spinners on 4th and 5th day.

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2010, 8:41 GMT

    Aussies will be in desperate need for Bucknor ;)

  • Dummy4 on September 26, 2010, 8:20 GMT

    Masterclass - seriously, one of the fastest men to 150 test wickets and he cant trouble batsmen?

  • rajmohan on September 26, 2010, 3:59 GMT

    Ha ha ha,an article on a young Australian bowler,and it takes only 1 comment to bring Tendulkar in it,Indian fans make my day....what would we ever do without them

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