Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc refused to concede Australia’s hopes of winning the series against New Zealand will fall upon the shoulders of the team’s bowling attack after selectors named an inexperienced top-order for Thursday’s opening Test.
After the retirements of Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and Chris Rogers the selectors named Joe Burns (2 Tests/average 36.50), Usman Khawaja (9/25.13), Adam Voges 7/46), Mitchell Marsh (7/28.18), Peter Nevill (4/23.83) to join David Warner (43/46.78) and Steve Smith (33/56.27) to take on the Kiwis in Brisbane.
Australia’s bowlers are hardened veterans by comparison with Starc boasting (22 Tests/average 31.80), Mitchell Johnson (71/27.94) Nathan Lyon (46/34.09), Josh Hazlewood (9/21.75) and Peter Siddle (57/29.87).
However Starc, who started the summer in phenomenal form with 34 wickets for 301 runs from just six one-dayers and a Sheffield Shield match, said the bowling attack wouldn’t feel as though they’re carrying the weight of the nation.
“Anyone named in the 12 deserves their selection,” said the 25-year-old. “Things aren’t going to change for us bowlers. We’re going to talk about hitting New Zealand hard and worrying more about ourselves and what we need to do to perform at our best.
“We’ve always worked hard and as a partnership we need to do that again and we need to do it at our best. Regardless of who is in Australia’s bowling group, that [approach] will continue to be the same.”
Starc said the bowlers had channelled the “one for all, all for one” approach of former national team attacks by fostering the kind of brotherhood that existed when the attack under Steve Waugh was known as the “Fast Bowler’s Cartel”.
“I don’t think it’s changed since the days of Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie and the boys,” he said. “We spend a lot of time around each other; we’re great mates on-and-off the field and while we’re on different sides of Australia there’s always text messages back and forth to see how the group is going.”
Despite painful spurs in his ankle Starc has been the standout player in the domestic matches and, while he is tired of talking about why he hasn’t yet matched his one-day exploits in the Test arena, pinpointed the reason for his electrifying form.
“From just playing cricket,” said Starc. “There’s been times in the past where I’ve spent time off the field so it’s nice to be playing for extended periods whether it’s with the white ball, red ball or, this week, the pink ball.
“I’ve never been a fan of resting or taking extended breaks because there’s only so much you can learn, or work on, in the nets. It’s nice to have a lengthy period of continuous cricket and, I guess, performing well enough to warrant selection.
“People ask about the white ball and red ball but it’s not so much the ball, it’s the tactics that come into play. When you have 10 overs or four overs with the white ball you can come in hard and attack a little more.
“The consistency comes into play with that red ball in longer formats that’s evaded me in the past and while it’s something that’s improved – it’s come along in leaps and bounds – I have a long way to go.
“I can definitely take some confidence out of some good performances in domestic cricket. It’s now a matter of me taking those performances into international cricket and having the consistency that’s needed to bowl good games back-to-back.”
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