Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Technical tweak reverses Starc's arc
Subtle but significant changes have helped the left-armer storm back to his best in time for the first Test
Sam Ferris at the SCG
14 November 2019, 05:44 PM AEST
A clear mindset, a tweaked action and a flowing rhythm has Mitchell Starc entering Australia's Test squad as perhaps the form fast bowler in the country.
Starc picked up 6-102 in NSW's 223-run Marsh Sheffield Shield win over Western Australia and, as expected, was rewarded with selection in Australia's 14-man squad for the two-match Domain Test Series against Pakistan.
The left-armer's haul takes his Shield season wicket tally to 17, the equal second-most in the competition behind Queensland's Cameron Gannon with 18.
All but one of those 17 scalps have come in his past two first-class outings on dry pitches with a reverse-swinging ball against Tasmania at Drummoyne Oval and at the SCG this week, either side of the Gillette T20 series against Sri Lanka and Pakistan.
It marks a dramatic turnaround from his opening Shield game of the season at the Gabba, the venue for the first Test, where he collected 1-129 from 39 overs.
That match in Brisbane forced Starc into action, and with the aid of NSW bowling coach Andre Adams, the 29-year-old made subtle but significant changes that manifested into standout performances at domestic and international level.
"I've just been happy with the rhythm and things that I worked on to get in a clearer mindset," Starc said today in Sydney.
"The things that I worked on coming out of the Gabba Shield game into the Drummmoyne game, and being pretty focused and clear since the Gabba game and throughout the T20s as well is pretty pleasing for me.
"It's nice to contribute to wins for NSW and Australia and hopefully now having that mindset and that rhythm now, having worked on that the last few weeks, hopefully that can carry on through the summer."
Starc is one of five fast bowlers in the Test squad to face Pakistan, along with Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Michael Neser.
That quintet toured England for the Ashes, with veteran Peter Siddle, and as a pack put their ego aside to embrace a squad mentality when it came to selection.
The preservation of fast bowlers is a priority for Cricket Australia and the strategy of rotating through the quicks to suit the unique conditions of the UK played a big role in Australia retaining the urn on foreign soil for the first time in 19 years.
Starc says the pace philosophy is set to continue in Australia, with all five fast bowlers a genuine chance to play during the summer.
"We spoke about the squad mentality during the Ashes series and having five fast bowlers again it's going to be same thing," he said.
"'Ness' (Neser) bowled really well in that A game (against Pakistan in Perth) from the little pieces that I saw and from what I've heard.
"'Patto' (Pattinson) has been bowling really nicely and Joshy (Hazlewood), Patty (Cummins) and myself are pretty happy with how we've been progressing – Patty and I with the white ball and Josh as well in Adelaide.
"'Gaz' (off-spinner Nathan Lyon) does what Gaz does and he's a big part of the Australian team.
"We haven't come into camp yet but no doubt it will be a squad mentality with the fast bowlers."
Fitting five fast bowlers into three spots will be no easy task for national selectors, but once they complete that task the next conundrum is who gets the new ball.
Former Australia paceman Brett Lee wants Cummins to take it, as he and Hazlewood did in the first innings against WA this week.
Both Pattinson and Neser open the bowling for Victoria and Queensland respectively and, along with Starc, are the biggest swingers of the new ball.
Starc says all five are capable of taking the shiny Kookaburra and would be putting their hands up to take it.
"Everyone wants to but we're a very well-rounded attack," he said.
"We can all take the new ball, we can all bowl with the older ball, the reverse (swinging) ball as well.
"We've got the No.1 bowler in the world too.
"It's an exciting little time to get back into Test conditions.
"Once the XI is named we'll go from there."
Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Australia squad: Tim Paine (c), Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner
Pakistan squad: Azhar Ali (c), Abid Ali, Asad Shafiq, Babar Azam, Haris Sohail, Imam-ul-Haq, Imran Khan Snr, Iftikhar Ahmed, Kashif Bhatti, Mohammad Abbas, Mohammad Rizwan (wk), Musa Khan, Naseem Shah, Shaheen Shah Afridi, Shan Masood, Yasir Shah.
Warm-up match: v Australia A, November 11-13, Perth Stadium (d/n)
Warm-up match: v Cricket Australia XI, November 15-16, WACA Ground
First Test: November 21-25, Gabba (Seven, Fox & Kayo)