Back to Home Page
Can Starc emulate the heroes of the past?
A scinitiliating 8/73 for New South Wales today told only part of the story for Mitchell Starc as he continues the comeback trail for the Ashes. The special deliveries to dismiss batsmen were back in the palm of his hand and it seemed at times, no batsman in history could have dealt with the swing and pace from the Australian. The player of the tournament in the 2015 World Cup at home, but make no mistake, the Ashes are what fans in the country remember for a lifetime. So far, Mitchell Start has lost both Ashes series he has been a part of, all on the shores of England. To be looked at one of the best bowlers of his generation, a purring performance in a winning Ashes cause is required. The expectation is on him as Australia seem to be clear favourites, but can he deliver when the pressure is on?
In ODI cricket, Starc has often given Steve Smith assurance at desperate times and changed losing situations into spectacular wins. While his test record is fantastic and is still considered as one of the best bowlers in the world, a question mark still stands against him in the longest form of the game. His skills and attributes are never in question, but he has not often been able to take his team over the line in a game of huge importance. The game against Pakistan last year was one such example where he delivered a magic delivery to dismiss Asad Shafiq but it has not been the case often that he is the reason Australia have won a test match. Of course, test matches are rarely won by one player and in recent years, especially away from home, he has been let down by the batsmen of his side. They have not provided enough runs to give Starc the security he would like in order to be in attacking mode consistently. Given the hype and excitement around the upcoming Ashes series, there will be no better stage to show the world just how great he is. More importantly, given James Pattinson’s injury which has ruled him out of the series, Smith will rely on Starc even more heavily to lead the attack and win back the holy grail for Australia. The pitches in Australia will undoubtedly help his style of bowling and the preparation he has had in the Sheffield Shield games will give him immense confidence to believe that he can dominate the upcoming series. Despite all these positive signs, there is one daunting prospect for the boy from Sydney.
In sport, the weight of history plays a huge role and often, the ghosts of the past can cast an overhanging shadow over players of the current day. When fans think back to Ashes series in Australia, the first image that springs to mind is that of histrionic fast bowling and stumps flying all over the place. The great Dennis Lillee and his partner in crime, Jeff Lawson ripped the English touring parting in 1974. More recently, Mitchell Johnson blew away the three times Ashes winners in 2013 when they went Down Under. As mentioned earlier, the expectation will be on the shoulders of Starc to have a similar kind of performance. Some cynics may say it won’t be necessary due to the apparent disarray the English are in with regards to the selection of the squad as well as the behaviour of their star player. What Starc will need to remember is to be in the moment completely and almost forget about the outcome. He needs to be in tuned to the process of getting wickets and then, his talent and expertise on how to deal with those conditions will come through and probably, “win those bas***** back” as the legendary Rodney Marsh said in 1974.
As we are less than a month away from the start of the series in Brisbane, the hype and excitement will only grow. Both teams have been criticised for the fact that they have weaknesses and it does not look like there is one dominant team who can sweep the series. But the English will need to be wary, Starc has the ability to emulate the legends of the past and take this series by the scruff of the neck.