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Starc searches for missing swing

Mitchell Starc's last visit to Eden Park was at the World Cup, when he confounded the New Zealand batsmen with late swing AFP

Never has Mitchell Starc been more destructive with the ball than on his only previous visit to Eden Park. In a World Cup pool match, his scorching, swinging yorkers fetched him a career-best 6 for 28 and very nearly allowed Australia to defend a puny total score New Zealand in front of a raucous crowd.

Two years on, Starc has returned to Auckland in strong physical shape, but still trying to rediscover the curl through the air he showcased that afternoon. It has been a source of puzzlement to many that he has not swung the ball anywhere near as much since his return from ankle and foot surgery, and Starc conceded he and the assistant coach David Saker were none the wiser as to why - despite plenty of tries at working it out.

There was hope, however, that the favourable atmosphere of Eden Park will help Starc to get the movement he is seeking once again. Such a turn of events would be encouraging for Australia as well, with the Test series in India weeks away.

"It's interesting. I along with David Saker, the bowling coach, we've looked at a lot of footage and my action hasn't changed at all," Starc said. "So it's probably an indication of the cricket balls we're using this summer, but at the same time it's a completely different ball we're going over to India with, the SG.

"I think reverse swing is going to play a much bigger part than natural swing over there, as we've seen in the last few series that we've gone to India. So it's key to try and get that ball swinging as much as we can naturally up front, it doesn't generally swing for too many overs, then trying to get that ball to go reverse while it's still relatively hard. They're things we're starting to talk about now as a group."

Starc was happy to admit that while he has harvested wickets consistently while keeping himself fit through a taxing summer schedule, he has not yet been able to return to the aforementioned peaks of 2015. That meant he has plenty more to aim for over the three ODIs in New Zealand and later in India.

"It's been up and down over the last six months," he said. "Probably still haven't been where I hope to be in terms of consistency in my bowling as opposed to where it was 12 months ago before I broke down, but looking back to Sri Lanka [where he took 24 wickets in three Tests], that's a blueprint I'd like to take into India, the way I approached my bowling there and the sorts of plans we talked about in those conditions.

"So it's something I can call upon over the next couple of months when we look forward to that challenge. But there's still a lot I can improve on over the last six months. I think the way I've been able to manage my body through the training accident a few months ago, it's been pleasing to get through six Test matches this summer, it's nice to do that for the first time."

The other thing Starc hoped for was a few more runs to defend in Auckland than the last time around. Tallies of 148 and 151 in Australia's past two visits mean the batsmen have plenty of improving to do, and Starc said there had been team discussions about not surrendering to the siren song of the Eden Park's short boundaries.

"We've spoken about giving ourselves a bit more time," Starc said. "You have those smaller boundaries in the back of your mind but you've always got a lot more time than you think, especially in 50-over cricket where you don't have to score 300 in the first 40 overs - you can probably make it up at the back end.

"So somewhere like here where it's probably going to swing and maybe nip a little bit, just give yourself a chance to get in, see some balls as batsmen, and give yourselves a chance at the back end. We've been pretty good against Pakistan at scoring runs late in the innings and the way to do that is to have wickets in the shed. So it's probably not been our best two outings with the bat here on the last two occasions, but it's a chance to rectify that and put a good total on the board to start off the series."