How much potential does Mitchell Starc have? Seriously. I know we are all waiting for him to find the same consistency in the test arena that has taken him to the top of the One Day bowling ranks, but there has to be some curiosity over the extent of his batting ability.
I think as a sport loving public, we are probably a little bit too hard on our young national representatives sometimes. We demand a very high standard from the start. I don’t think it’s completely unwarranted, but I think we lose perspective pretty quickly sometimes.
It probably comes from a variety of sources, but most likely, it comes from not knowing much about a 22 or 23 year old guy who get thrown into the test team. Unless they have been tagged in the media from their U/19 representative days, like a Michael Clark or more recently Jake Doran, media coverage of the up and comers is probably limited to the individual states home grown.
In the case of Mitchell Starc he is another NSW product, which immediately draws critics. In Its self, the hatred for New South Welshmen is probably a good topic for a full article one day. I read in a magazine last month that he turned up to grade trials at the Western Suburbs Cricket Club at a 15 at approximately 195cm…. as a wicket keeper.
When Neil D’Costa (first grade coach and Michael Clarke and Phillip Hughes mentor at the club.) asked him to grab a ball and roll the arm over, he apparently replied “not me, I’m a wicket-keeper”
D’Costa then said something along the lines of “listen mate, I’m the first grade coach here, do me a favour and just roll the arm over, you’re the only 2 m tall wicket keeper I’ve seen.”
He obviously made an impression. D’Costa has taken him under his wing and guided him to taking the new ball for Australia.
There must have been a whirlwind of emotion from everyone involved with his development when Starc yorked Brendan McCullum in the first over of the World Cup final this year. An Incredible rise for a 25 year old who had only been actually bowling for 10 years.
In interviews during this current Ashes campaign he has openly said he is still learning. At no stage has he given a whiff of ‘know it all’, showing that this is a guy who is learning his trade at the highest level on the biggest stage. The hard thing from a fans perspective is, we can see how devastating he can be, and then we get frustrated when he can produce it ball after ball after ball.
Putting his bowling aside for a minute, he has put some serious batting performances in for a guy in his position. He has five fifties in 30 innings, with a high score of 99. His 99 (144) was in Mohali in 2013, helping Australia to first inning score of 408. (Who batted with him for most of his innings? Steve Smith for 92) During the third test of the same series, after scoring 35 (100) Starc became the first recorded instance of a No. 9, 10 or 11 surviving 100 balls in both innings, and did it India, at 23.
It also seems to get left in the past that, at the WACA against South Africa in 2012 Starc took match figures of 6/154 and then decided to hit the second fastest test fifty (32 balls) by and Australian. If you include his recent innings of 58 (108) against the English at Edgbaston, with a calming influence at one end in Nevill, and some pressure to perform, we have hopefully just had an insight into the future Starc. His average of 26.77 looks a little bit low and he has probably shown enough that he could put his hand up to join the 300 wickets & 2000 test runs club (currently standing at 72 wickets & 589 runs)
His ODI average is 23.14, but he has only been required to bat 18 times in 41 matches. His bowling average of 18.33 has probably had just as much to do with that as the top six batsmen.
One thing at a time, but I like the idea of having Starc as a change bowler, possibly taking over the number seven role and keep Nevill at six full time. With a serious push, i think he can do it. Im sure that it’s a low priority until his bowling is consistent, but if he hit an extra 300-500 balls a week, he clearly has the timing and the eye to develop.
I’m guessing that Starc’s batting average will end up over 30 and his bowling average under 30, the two signs of a genuine test all-rounder.