Vodafone Test Series v India
Paine aiming to get best out of Starc for Gabba decider
The Aussie skipper concedes his mood on the final day in Sydney might have impacted his strike weapon
14 January 2021, 04:55 PM AEST
Australia captain Tim Paine has blamed himself for not getting the best out of pace ace Mitch Starc on the decisive final day of the drawn third Test at the SCG.
Starc finished the third Vodafone Test with match figures of 1-127 from 41 overs, with the left-armer bowling 16 overs for 0-39 on the final day where his usual electric pace dipped while operating on a benign SCG surface.
The 30-year-old was showing signs of fatigue at the back end of an intense summer of international cricket but fired up for one last spell that might have cracked the game open had Paine held onto a sharp catch.
With 10 overs remaining in the day, Starc extracted a rare outside edge from the bat of defiant batter Hanuma Vihari only for Paine to grass the chance.
Paine put his three dropped catches on the day (the other two off Nathan Lyon's bowling) down to the tension he was feeling as his side tried everything to snap the unyielding stands between Rishabh Pant and Cheteshwar Pujara, and then Vihari and Ravichandran Ashwin that ultimately guided India to a draw.
Paine has admitted he had a poor day as both a leader and gloveman on day five in Sydney, and said his frustration led to a regrettable exchange with Ashwin while also rubbing off on his teammates, particularly Starc.
The skipper says his mood might have played a part in why Starc wasn't at his destructive best on day five in Sydney.
"My role with Starcy is to try and do the same thing and that's why I was disappointed on day five; my role with him was to keep him nice and calm and keep him really clear of what I, and we, expect of him," Paine said.
"He's the type of bowler that when you give him really simple and clear instructions and on an even keel, he normally bowls the house down.
"With my mood on day five, potentially he was one that I affected and was the reason he wasn't at his best.
"So it's about me getting back to basics and keeping him nice and relaxed, keeping it really clear on what we want him to do.
"When we do that, he more often than not delivers."
While Starc was down on energy on Monday, the NSW quick will surely be boosted by returning to the scene of his first Test – the Gabba – for the series decider, starting Friday.
Starc has taken 23 wickets in five red-ball Tests in Brisbane, with each wicket costing 26.60 runs and coming every 44 deliveries.
Starc and his fellow fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins have not trained since arriving in Brisbane on Tuesday given the short turnaround between Tests.
Paine says Starc, who has 253 wickets in 60 Tests, has down days like all players, but when the paceman is firing on all cylinders, opposition teams better look out.
"Some days he looks like what he is – one of the great bowlers in the world," Paine said.
"And the next day, he has a bad day like the rest of us.
"Even his last spell in Sydney I thought was outstanding.
"We know how good he is, we know that on his day he can rip a Test match apart.
"But that’s not going to happen for him every day."
Vodafone Test Series v India 2020-21
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Sean Abbott, Pat Cummins, Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Moises Henriques, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Will Pucovski, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Swepson, Matthew Wade, David Warner
India Test squad: Ajinkya Rahane (captain), Rohit Sharma (vice-captain), Mayank Agarwal, Prithvi Shaw, Cheteshwar Pujara, Hanuma Vihari, Shubman Gill, Wriddhiman Saha (wk), Rishabh Pant (wk), Jasprit Bumrah, Navdeep Saini, Kuldeep Yadav, Ravindra Jadeja, R Ashwin, Mohammed Siraj, Shardul Thakur, T Natarajan
First Test: Australia won by eight wickets
Second Test: India won by eight wickets
Third Test: Match drawn
Fourth Test: January 15-19, Gabba, 11am AEDT