The Australian fast bowler finally listened to Hazlewood and Cummins and added the wobble-seam delivery to his arsenal. Mitchell Starc committed to doing things his way during the Ashes tour, which is paying off.
Although his efforts were unable to lift Australia to victory at Headingley, he captured seven wickets in the match, bringing his series total to 13 from two games. That is already more appearances than he had in 2019 when he had only appeared at Old Trafford – where the teams will go next in this series, with Australia looking for the win that will keep the Ashes – before being strangely omitted at The Oval, as the visitors bumbled and had to share the series.
Starc was first overlooked four years ago, partly due to a focus on economic rates. He tried to adapt his approach and took four wickets in the win at Old Trafford, but he thought it harmed his game that persisted after he went home. With Baseball at the helm, economy rates were unlikely to be the deciding factor this time, which has benefited Starc.
“Last time, there was a big [focus] on economy rates, which a lot of guys talked about throughout the tour, and we all bought into that.” “And that was something that worked really [well] for us back then to keep the Ashes,” Starc explained. “However, it did have an impact on my approach back to Australia, as I lost some airspeed.” It took away some of my strengths and the part I play in our offensive strategy.
“I wasn’t going to change that this time, and if it meant not playing, so be it.” I was going to stick to my talents and what I offer to the assault rather than trying to be like Josh [Hazlewood] or Pat [Cummins] because that wouldn’t compliment the group.”
Starc has conceded runs at a rate of 4.43 per over, easily his highest for a two-Test series.
During the current Ashes series, Starc has conceded runs at a rate of 4.43 per over, easily his highest for a series in which he has played two Tests. Still, he is on track for his most successful Ashes tour of the UK, with his previous best haul being the 18 wickets he got in 2015. Significantly, his strike rate is only 31.6 this time, compared to a career average 49.1.
Starc admitted to being rusty during the World Test Championship final against India at The Oval, but still produced a brute of a delivery to remove Virat Kohli and was omitted for the first Ashes Test at Edgbaston in favor of Josh Hazlewood and Scott Boland before returning at Lord’s.
“After the first week, The Oval game,” he continued, “I’ve found a good bit of rhythm.” “The body feels good, and the rhythm is there.” I’m very clear about my position; it hasn’t changed much from what I would ordinarily do for this group in Australia or how Pat has used me throughout.”
Starc demolished England’s middle order in the first innings at Lord’s, dismissing Joe Root, Harry Brook, and, importantly, Ben Stokes in the first over of the third day before destroying Ollie Pope’s stumps in the second. Then there was the wobble-seam delivery, which Starc had picked up from Hazlewood and Pat Cummins in recent years but had yet to use in 2019. It was displayed at Headingley, notably in the second innings when he dismissed Ben Duckett and Moeen Ali.
“I’ve finally listened to Pat and Josh, I guess,” he said. “They’re two fantastic practitioners of the wobble seam, or whatever you want to call it.” Speaking with them over the previous three years and being able to add that string to my bow has helped me grow my bowling beyond just swinging it or bowling fast.
“I’ve now got another option to try to beat the bat both ways, or it can be a wicket-taking ball depending on who I’m bowling to or where I’m bowling as well, like [Sunday].” It’s beautiful to be rewarded with it, especially here where conditions can sometimes [give] more off the seam than in the air.”
When he later added Stokes and Jonny Bairstow in quick succession at Headingley, it appeared he might bowl Australia to Ashes victory there and there. Still, Brook and England’s bottom order held their nerve to set up a thriller series finale.
“It’s never easy to lose, but we have a little break now to refresh,” Starc remarked. “We’ve got some good memories, some good juju from Manchester last time.”
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