Men's Ashes 2021-22
Starc's mark: First-over king strikes again
A first ball that will go down in Ashes folklore continues Mitchell Starc's extraordinary record of striking in his opening over
Adam Burnett at the Gabba
8 December 2021, 12:43 PM AEST
Mitchell Starc lit up the Gabba with the first ball of the Test summer this morning, and it's far from the first time the left-armer has done early damage on the international stage.
Statistics show Starc is in fact the world's most prolific bowler in recent times when it comes to taking wickets in the opening over of an innings.
This morning's special – when he remarkably knocked over left-hander Rory Burns behind his legs – sparked scenes reminiscent of his famous dismissal of Brendon McCullum in the first over of the 2015 World Cup final at the MCG.
It was also the 13th time Starc has struck in the opening over of a Test innings since the beginning of 2014, nudging him past Ashes rival James Anderson (12 first-over wickets) through the same period.
Over that same period in ODIs, his 19 victims in the first over of an innings put him well clear of the pack, with Sri Lankan Lasith Malinga (12) second.
Not since 1936 has a bowler struck on the very first ball of an Ashes series.
Only the second time the first ball of an Ashes series has resulted in a wicket - T Worthington in 1936 was the only other time, c Oldfield b McCormick.— Ric Finlay (@RicFinlay) December 8, 2021
In what has become part of the tradition of an Australian Test summer, legendary leg-spinner Shane Warne called for the paceman's axing for the Gabba Test, with his preference for in-form Western Australian Jhye Richardson to be selected in the XI.
Starc only figured once in the 2019 Ashes campaign in the UK as Australia rotated through five fast bowlers, and the New South Welshman endured a lean series against India last summer, taking 11 wickets in four Tests and striking every 74 deliveries.
But the 31-year-old's career strike-rate of 49.3 across a decade of Test cricket puts him in the top handful of bowlers through that time, and that wicket-taking prowess ensured he was viewed as an automatic pick for the national selection panel.
New Test skipper Pat Cummins also talked up the form of his teammate in the lead-up to this series, revealing he had been bowling with considerable pace and swing as Australia prepared on the Gold Coast and then in Brisbane via a series of centre-wicket sessions.
"Everyone expects fast bowlers to bowl fast every time they bowl, whereas we knew we had three weeks when we came up here building up to the first game," Cummins said on Sunday.
"So he's been building up nicely, we had a really good centre-wicket (session) yesterday, and he was fast, he was swinging the ball big.
"We weren't surprised but it was great to see, and you've got some of the best batters in the world – Steve Smith, Marnus (Labuschagne) – it looked like Starcy was a handful for them, so they're all good signs."
Vodafone Men's Ashes
Australia: Pat Cummins (c), Steve Smith (vc), Alex Carey, Cameron Green, Josh Hazlewood, Marcus Harris, Travis Head, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, Jhye Richardson, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, David Warner
England: Joe Root (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Dom Bess, Stuart Broad, Rory Burns, Jos Buttler, Zak Crawley, Haseeb Hameed, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Dawid Malan, Craig Overton, Ollie Pope, Ollie Robinson, Ben Stokes, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood
First Test: December 8-12, The Gabba
Second Test: December 16-20, Adelaide Oval
Third Test: December 26-30, MCG
Fourth Test: January 5-9, SCG
Fifth Test: January 14-18, TBC