Starc's clarity of role brings confidence in white-ball cricket

"I'm going stick to my strengths of the death and not worry too much about what others are doing."

Andrew McGlashan
Andrew McGlashan
It's been a lengthy wait for everyone between men's T20 World Cups - five years - but it's been even longer for Mitchell Starc who missed the 2016 event due to injury.
He has played in two ODI World Cups since his last T20 version, back in 2014, in which he was the leading wicket-taker in 2019 and joint-leading in 2015. The two limited-overs formats have their differences, but Starc's role does not vastly alter, it just happens over a shorter period with perhaps the middle part taken out: try and take a wicket or two with the new ball in the Powerplay then close out the innings at the death.
Whether it plays out quite like that in the UAE remains to be seen based around the balance of Australia's attack, but regardless Starc goes into the World Cup with a clear mind when it comes to his white-ball game.
"I guess the white-ball formats are probably the ones that I've played the most consistently in comparison to Test cricket, or felt more at home for a longer period of time than in the red-ball game," Starc said. "One of the things I take from all my cricket, across the three formats, is trying to keep my game plan and my role pretty simple.
"Certainly my role in white-ball cricket hasn't changed a hell of a lot over the last 10 years and I think having that clarity there helps me keep it simple and know what I need to do for the team to get us in some really good positions.
"I've always tried to keep my cricket simple and I'm not someone who comes out with 24 different types of slow balls, certainly for T20 cricket. I've got a bit of speed on my side and focus on obviously my death bowling as well so I think that's key for me, focus on doing a few things really well rather than doing a lot of things okay."
Starc played six of the 10 T20Is on the recent tours of West Indies and Bangladesh which brought just four wickets (his form the ODIs in the Caribbean sandwiched in the middle was outstanding with 11 wickets in three matches) and during those games he became the first Australia men's bowler to 50 T20I wickets. That it has taken so long for an Australia bowler to make that mark is an indication of the relative lack of matches in the format; Starc himself played just one T20I in a three-year period between late 2016 and late 2019.
However, in West Indies Starc secured Australia's one victory of a tough series when he pulled out the type of over that could decent crunch moments of a World Cup as he denied Andre Russell when there was 11 to defend. Starc trusts himself with the yorker - a delivery that has become his trademark with all colours of ball whether old or new - but knows there can be a fine line.
"I can't sit here and say I've nailed the death every time," he said. "I've certainly been beaten a number of times so for me the way to go about at the death is what your strengths are. What you see at the other end, it's not one shoe fits all.
"I like to try and stick to what I can do really well. That could be different for any number of bowlers. Josh [Hazlewood] and Pat [Cummins] probably see it different to the way I see it. For me, I'm going stick to my strengths at the death and not worry too much about what other guys are doing at that stage of the game."
Following the conclusion of the IPL, Australia now have their full squad together ahead of warm-up matches against New Zealand and India before facing South Africa in their first group match on October 23.

Andrew McGlashan is a deputy editor at ESPNcricinfo