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Starc stakes claim to greatness as Lillee draws near

Another noteworthy performance with the pink ball saw Mitchell Starc fly past 350 Test wickets on day one in Brisbane

Starc snares four-for including 350th Test scalp

It is 40 years this month since Dennis Lillee ended his Test career with a then world record 355 wickets.

On day one of the second NRMA Insurance Test at the Gabba, after working yet more wonders with the bright pink pill he once decried, Mitchell Starc sailed past 350 Test wickets, engineered a West Indies collapse and careered into history in the process. 

The milestone was one thing; the 33-year-old is the fifth Australian to get there, and the third left-arm quick worldwide, after Wasim Akram and Chaminda Vaas.

But Starc has done it quickly. At this rate, he will hit 355 wickets around his 17,100th Test delivery. Lillee, for the record, took his final Test wicket with his 18,467th delivery.

"Numbers are nice, it's something else to reflect on when I'm done but we've still got a couple of wickets to take," Starc said after play. "But it was nice to have an impact today and go past that one, and 'Gaz' (Nathan Lyon) was saying I've still got 150 to go (laughs).

"Today felt really smooth. I probably felt a little slow at times through the crease but the rhythm felt really smooth and I was able to still generate some pace, so that was a real positive.

"I've been searching for that perfect feeling throughout the summer and it was nice to have that smooth rhythm today and be able to make an impact."

On a wicket that offered bounce and pace but not a whole lot more, particularly as the day wore on, Starc winkled out three West Indies batters in the first session – one right-hander, two lefties – and a fourth late in the day, utilising swing and seam and maintaining the sort of consistent line and length many once felt was beyond him.

Ever-improving Starc reflects on another wickets milestone

All four batters edged behind – to wicketkeeper, first and second slip (twice) – and just like that Starc had extended his lead as the world's most prolific wicket-taker with the pink ball and taken back the spotlight from his close fast-bowling buddies Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Any recent comparisons with the legendary Lillee have been limited strictly to Cummins and perhaps rightly so, but Starc's strike-rate (48.2) over a Test career now in its 13th year at least gives credence to the suggestion he remains underappreciated in the game's longest format.

Typically, he credited his pace partners with pushing him to the heights he has reached.

"I think it's an easy thing to do in this group in terms of continuing to learn or continuing to add strings to the bow if you like, I mean two of my best mates are two of the best bowlers in the world," he said.

Australia v West Indies | Second Test | Day 1

"To spend as much time as we do together, on and off the field, little things that we pick up on at training and in games, it doesn't get much better than that when the three of us are as close as we are, and have been bowling together for a long time now as well.

"In that regard it's not a hard thing to keep trying to improve, or trying to stay to the same level as the other two as well."

If the West Indian fightback through the middle session is anything to go by, Starc's point about the pink ball – that it tends to soften quicker than the red one – remains a valid one, though he explained after play that there is a sentiment among the bowlers now that the surface has become the vital ingredient in the making of the ideal day-night Test conditions.

"The ball is what it is," he said. "I think it now comes down to the wicket, which I think Adelaide's got right. We know (the pink ball) goes soft at a certain stage depending on the wicket, and I think there's a certain cushion to (the pitch in) Adelaide, which is why it's been such a good (day-night) Test match.

"I think this wicket is pretty similar to the game we played Pakistan here with the pink ball (in 2016), where in that game as well it went soft very early. There were a lot of dead patches (in the match) where because (the ball) was so soft it was hard to score, there wasn't much in the wicket for the bowlers and I think Pakistan got about 450 chasing 490 in the fourth innings.

"I think it'd be a fantastic red-ball wicket but (it's) probably too firm for pink ball."

NRMA Insurance Test series v West Indies

First Test: Australia won by 10 wickets

Second Test: January 25-29, Gabba (3pm AEDT)

Australia Test squad: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Matthew Renshaw, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc

West Indies Test squad: Kraigg Brathwaite (c), Alzarri Joseph (vc), Tagenarine Chanderpaul, Kirk McKenzie, Alick Athanaze, Kavem Hodge, Justin Greaves, Joshua Da Silva, Akeem Jordan, Gudakesh Motie, Kemar Roach, Kevin Sinclair, Tevin Imlach, Shamar Joseph, Zachary McCaskie

Men's Dettol ODI Series v West Indies

February 2: MCG, 2.30pm AEDT

February 4: SCG, 2.30pm AEDT

February 6: Manuka Oval, Canberra 2.30pm AEDT

Australia ODI squad: Steve Smith (c), Travis Head (vc), Sean Abbott, Xavier Bartlett, Jake Fraser-McGurk, Cameron Green, Aaron Hardie, Josh Inglis, Marnus Labuschagne, Lance Morris, Matt Short, Will Sutherland, Adam Zampa

West Indies ODI squad: Shai Hope (c), Alzarri Joseph, Alick Athanaze, Teddy Bishop, Keacy Carty, Roston Chase, Matthew Forde, Justin Greaves, Kavem Hodge, Tevin Imlach, Gudakesh Motie, Kjorn Ottley, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas, Hayden Walsh Jr.

Men's Dettol T20I Series v West Indies

February 9: Blundstone Arena, Hobart 7.00pm AEDT

February 11: Adelaide Oval, 7pm AEDT

February 13: Perth Stadium, 7pm AEDT

Australia T20I squad: Mitchell Marsh (c), Sean Abbott, Jason Behrendorff, Tim David, Nathan Ellis, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis, Glenn Maxwell, Matt Short, Marcus Stoinis, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Adam Zampa

West Indies T20I squad: Rovman Powell (c), Shai Hope, Johnson Charles, Roston Chase, Jason Holder, Akeal Hosein, Alzarri Joseph, Brandon King, Kyle Mayers, Gudakesh Motie, Nicholas Pooran, Andre Russell, Sherfane Rutherford, Romario Shepherd, Oshane Thomas