Domain Test Series v Pakistan
Starc reality as pace ace prepares to shed shackles
Having fallen down the pecking order on the Ashes tour, Mitchell Starc is ready to unleash rockets at home this summer
29 September 2019, 07:56 PM AEST
For the first time since 2016 Mitchell Starc will enter a home summer unsure of his position as the leader of Australia's pace attack, or even if he'll share the new ball.
Starc found himself unexpectedly idle during the winter Ashes series in England, playing just one of the five Tests, and is now champing at the bit to get stuck into the Marsh Sheffield Shield and impose himself in home conditions.
Starc – and the rest of the NSW-based Ashes tourists – will rest up until the opening round of the Shield, missing this week's two Marsh One-Day Cup matches against Western Australia at Drummoyne.
Having spent five months abroad, finishing as the leading wicket-taker for the second ODI World Cup in succession and adapting his game for English conditions, Starc returns home ready to shed the shackles and return to doing what he does best: bowling fast.
"I'll be trying to get back into the mindset of run in and bowl fast and intimidate with pace, and hopefully get a bit of swing," Starc told cricket.com.au.
"The Kookaburra ball doesn't do as much as the Dukes ball and the wickets are generally flatter in Australia (and) it probably won't seam around as much.
"So that's a little bit of a point of difference I can generate, those high speeds and get those batsmen jumping around."
It's easy to forget given the volume of cricket played over the winter that way back in February Starc's last Test in Australia saw him rip through Sri Lanka to take a 10-wicket haul.
But the towering left-arm firebrand won't be unlearning all he gleaned in England, keeping the new strings to his bow in reserve to swell his bag of tricks.
"I think developed my skills for English bowling and I was pretty happy with how I went about my work over there," Starc says of his time with the red ball.
"I took a different mindset of not trying to bowl the way I do in Australia because the wickets are different, the balls are different.
"With the wickets being slower you try and get more seam movement, a bit more through the air and not just try and run in and only focus on bowling fast.
"I was pretty happy with how that side of my game developed over there and that's something that at times perhaps I can bring into my game in Australia.
"But it's different conditions, and hopefully faster and bouncier wickets where you can run in and try and bowl fast."
Starc suffered most at the hands of Australia's ploy to rotate their unprecedented crop of six fit and firing fast bowlers, and it required a change of mindset to buy into the tactics.
But the results paid dividends, with Australia retaining the Ashes with a 2-2 series draw, something a touring Aussie squad had not done since 2001.
"You want to play every game," Starc says," but having that mindset knowing they were going to pick on conditions and how they thought the make-up of the game would be best to win games of cricket, it makes it an easier pill to swallow.
"And wanting to stay ready for when and if you do get called upon, you want to be able to take that opportunity with both hands to try and win a Test for Australia.
"A part of you is disappointed you're not playing but at the same time we all wanted to be part of a squad, a group that was going to win the Ashes, and we retained the trophy.
"The fact that we had six guys who could have come in to play at any stage was fantastic, and something Australia hasn't had for a long time.
"You normally have three or, if you're lucky, four who've got Test experience who could be in the side at any one time with injuries and all that sort of thing.
"Along with the fact we've all grown up together, played a lot with and against each other, that played a massive part in that understanding we were there to win the Ashes, we weren't there just to be a part of the XI and play as many games as we could."
Starc is unclear if coach Justin Langer and fellow selectors will continue that 'horses for courses' approach at home but, providing the crop of quicks remains fit and healthy, a fast bowling shoot-out looms in the Sheffield Shield.
"In the past it's been one game and away you go, into the international summer," Starc said of his involvement in the NSW Blues' Shield campaigns in recent seasons.
"To get a chance to play a few more is exciting to pull on the Baggy Blue, I don't get to do that too often.
"We play our first two games at the Gabba and the SCG – for us Blue Baggers it doesn't happen too many times to play at the SCG, so the guys are definitely excited about that.
"At the moment everyone is fit which is really exciting, there's a lot of Shield cricket before the Test group get back together again and obviously T20s before that.
"A lot can happen in a short space of time but hopefully everyone is still fit for the summer, it will make it exciting for fans to watch and for us to be part of.
"Players and teams perform at their best when you're trying to win games of cricket and let selection and the rest of it take care of itself. If you're contributing to wins, that's going to be taken into consideration."