Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Pink-ball king rises from Ashes axing
Lauded for his selfless response to being overlooked for most of the Ashes, Mitchell Starc enhanced his reputation as the world's best day-night Test bowler
Martin Smith at Adelaide Oval
1 December 2019, 11:08 PM AEST
It's not often the world's No.1 Test bowler is forced to play second fiddle, but such is the hot form of Mitchell Starc at the moment even Pat Cummins has been in awe of the left-armer's pink-ball potency in Adelaide this weekend.
Starc took seven of the 13 Pakistan wickets to fall across days two and three of this second Domain Test, extending his lead as the most prolific bowler in the short history of day-night Test cricket.
Since he was overlooked for all but one of Australia's five Ashes Tests in the winter, Starc has taken 31 wickets at 15.74 at first-class level and his spell on Saturday night stood out to his fast-bowling teammate.
"Even last night under lights, when I was bowling it didn't feel like there was much sideways movement," Cummins told cricket.com.au on Sunday. "And he was tearing in and got four wickets out of nowhere.
"He's someone who just looks to be at the top of his game at the moment. He's played a few Shield games and been a class above there so it's great that he's transferred that over here and we saw at the Gabba (in the first Test) how effective he was as well."
With seven Pakistan wickets still on offer on Monday, Starc's record of 33 wickets in six Tests under lights puts him nine clear of the third member of Australia's pace-bowling trio, Josh Hazlewood, atop the list of leading day-night Test wicket-takers.
He also has 59 wickets at an average of just 18.00 in 10 first-class matches with the pink ball.
Starc, one of the most prolific wicket-takers in limited-overs international cricket, said he and his pace partners are still getting used to the subtleties of the pink Kookaburra ball, which has gone through several reinventions since it was first used in early 2014.
"I still think it's more like a white ball than a red ball, so that's probably playing in my favour there," he said after a fighting century from Yasir Shah, just the fourth-ever by a Test No.8 visiting Australia, pushed Pakistan's first-innings total to 302 on Sunday.
"It still went soft for us on that wicket, as we saw through the early afternoon session today where it didn't move around much at all and the wicket was quite flat.
"When it's going through those stages, it's trying to control the scoreboard, and we did that fairly well at times and then Yasir got away from us a fair bit."
Cummins said the way Starc has responded to the disappointment of his Ashes campaign, where he was forced to watch from the sidelines as James Pattinson and Peter Siddle were picked ahead of him, has been "super impressive".
"It's one of the reasons we love having Starcy in our side," Cummins said. "He's a brilliant guy to have around, whether he's playing or not.
"Over in the Ashes, nine people out of 10 would have thought he was going to be playing and he wasn't. But to his credit, he was great around the team, worked super hard out in the nets every morning trying to make a few tweaks and he's reaping the rewards here.
"He's earned his spot well and truly in Shield cricket.
"Whenever he's bowled in the past few weeks, he's looked a class above. He's brilliant."
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.
First Test: Australia won by an innings and five runs.