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Starc on de Bruyn's backing up: 'Absolutely taking the mickey'

The fast bowler has warned batters in the past and admitted he may eventually run someone out

'Just stay in your crease, it's not that hard' - Mitchell Starc gave Theunis de Bruyn a fair warning, Australia vs South Africa, 2nd Test, Melbourne, 4th day, December 29, 2022

'Just stay in your crease, it's not that hard'  •  Getty Images

Mitchell Starc has conceded he could eventually be drawn into running out a batter backing up after he warned Theunis de Bruyn on the fourth day at the MCG.
In the 17th over of South Africa's second innings, Starc pulled out of his delivery stride when he saw de Bruyn was backing up well out of his crease. "Stay in the crease, it's not that hard," he was heard saying over the stump microphone.
During the drinks break he spoke to Fox Cricket. "He's halfway down Punt Rd, wasn't he? It's bad enough in white-ball cricket, I don't know what the need is in red-ball cricket," he said.
"I was just letting him know that if I have to keep my foot behind the line, he can at least keep the bat behind the line."
Speaking after the match, Starc indicated there would be a point where if a batter kept doing it he would take the bails off.
"That's just absolutely taking the mickey," he said. "That's not just taking off before a bowl, that's a metre down the wicket. I gave him a couple of warnings, but if he wants to keep doing it, I'll take them.
"I had a word with him last night actually because he was doing yesterday. I said it again to him and he said 'I'm not doing it on purpose.' There's no need for it…I keep saying I'm not going to take the stumps but you at least keep your bat behind the line."
Earlier this season, Starc gave England's Jos Buttler a similar warning during a T20 in Canberra. Shortly after that he proposed a new method of managing the situation by using a run penalty, although that was more with a focus on T20 where small margins are much more likely.
"Why not take it out of the hands of interpretation, and make it black-and-white?" Starc told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald. "Every time the batter leaves the crease before the front foot lands, dock them a run. There's no grey area then.
"I've warned batters plenty of times, [Buttler] is not the first occasion," Starc added at the time. "I warned probably seven Kiwi batters in those ODI games in the top end - some were two metres outside their crease. As I said to Jos, I could never see myself doing it [running a non-striker out], but it doesn't mean that you should then feel free to leave your crease early."
The ball after the warning to de Bruyn in Melbourne, Starc pinned Sarel Erwee lbw with a searing yorker and three overs later Scott Boland removed de Bruyn with a lifting delivery that was edged to slip.