Starc looks to rival for Ashes insight
With the Ashes less than a year away, Australia's fastest bowler is watching the events in England very closely
8 August 2018, 03:31 PM AEST
Australia’s next Test assignment is against Pakistan in the UAE in less than two months, but spearhead Mitch Starc is keeping an eye on what’s happening in England a year out from the 2019 Ashes series.
England and India lock horns again on Thursday at Lord’s in the second of five Tests after the hosts won a low-scoring thriller in Birmingham last week.
In a refreshing change of pace, ball dominated bat at Edgbaston, where no team amassed 300 and India captain Virat Kohli was the only player to score a century, but even that brilliant knock was not without fortune.
For essentially the entire four days, the Dukes ball swung around on a pitch that provided spin and seam movement, conditions that produced compelling cricket.
Starc caught the broadcast of the enthralling contest all the way on the other side of the planet, and while the match was a grand affair, the Australian was focusing on the smaller, subtle details with an eye to the future.
Should form and fitness stay strong, Starc will be in Australia’s Ashes squad for the 2019 series in England, a place where Australia have not won a Test series since 2001, when Starc was 11.
Starc is no stranger to English conditions; he’s played with county heavyweights Yorkshire and toured multiple times, including the 2013 and 2015 Ashes tours.
In eight Ashes Tests in England, he has 29 wickets at 31.24 while striking every 54.2 balls. That average and strike-rate in England are up from his career marks of 28.17 and 49.3, respectively.
It’s why Starc, who like all Australians is desperate to end the Ashes drought in the UK, has been keeping close tabs on what’s happening in Britain.
"That’s one thing I certainly have been doing while watching that series, is trying to pick up little things or different ways to bowl in those conditions," Starc told cricket.com.au.
"It’s definitely one place where Australia hasn’t played very well for a while now.
"Although I’ve had a little bit of success over there personally, I still know I’ve got big improvements to make in my bowling in English conditions.
"It’s a fascinating one. The wickets might have a little bit more in them but they’re definitely slower wickets and the English players play very differently in those conditions than what they would have here."
When it comes to bowling in English conditions, there is no better blueprint to follow than the one drawn by England swing architect James Anderson.
No bowler has taken more wickets in England than Anderson, who is just 20 wickets away from overtaking Glenn McGrath as Test cricket’s most prolific fast bowler.
So it’s no surprise Starc identified the England veteran as one he’s been zeroing in on, and what he’s gleaned is that skill could be more vital than speed.
Starc is perhaps the fastest bowler in the world when he’s bowling full throttle, but the left-armer says he might have to change down in gears to get the best results in England.
"You do have to approach it differently; it’s not just bowl 150kph, bowl a few bouncers and intimidate that way," he said.
"You look at guys like Jimmy Anderson, who has such a high skill of swinging and moving that ball around.
"They don’t have to bowl 150kph to take wickets in England."
But Starc says the Aussie pace trio of Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and himself – the triumvirate who bowled Australia to Ashes victory last summer – is versatile enough to adapt and succeed in all conditions.
"I think we’ve got an attack, if we’re all fit and firing, that can do any number of things," he said.
"We’re all different bowlers and take wickets different ways.
"When we’re up and firing that’s one advantage about our attack."