What has happened to Mitchell Starc?
At the last world cup, Mitchell Starc led Australia superbly with the ball which helped Australia raise the World Cup trophy. But what has happened to Australia's hero since?
After the last runs were chased down in the final of the 2015 World Cup, after the Shane Warne 'How thirsty are you?' interviews, and after a few hugs and kisses from family and friends, the presentation started up. Part of the ceremony was the announcement of Mitchell Starc as the 2015 World Cup player of the tournament. It was a fitting reward at the conclusion of 6 weeks of superb fast bowling. Starc was a player right at the top of his game.
His 2/47 against England in the first match wasn’t spectacular, but everything after it was. In the second match, he almost took Australia to victory with 6/28 against New Zealand whilst defending a small total. Starc consistently main inroads into opposition batting orders, and not once failed to at least take a brace of wickets in whatever match he played in.
His 2/28 off 8.5 overs against India in the semi-final was economical and effective, and a few people still argue that his wicket of Brendon McCullum off the third ball in the final was when the final ended.
Australia had a superb left arm fast bowler who could bowl at good pace, with the occasional accurate yorker to dismiss any batsman not completely on top of their game.
Australia had the best one day bowlers in the world bowling for them.
Now we forward ahead four years leading into the 2019 world cup, which gives us the opportunity to reflect on what has happened over the last four years since the last installment of crickets biggest competition was played.
Instead of focusing on all four years, we can hone in on the last two. Since the ICC Champions Trophy was played during the English summer of 2017. Mitchell Starc has only played 7 one day matches for Australia. His returns have been:
2/71 (10) vs England – Jan 2018
4/59 (10) vs England – Jan 2018
0/63 (10) vs England – Jan 2018
1/63 (9) vs England – Jan 2018
0/47 (10) vs South Africa – Nov 2018
2/51 (10) vs South Africa – Nov 2018
2/57 (10) vs South Africa – Nov 2018
The last two years Starc’s 11 wickets at 37.36, all on home soil, haven’t been at the standard Starc would expect from himself. It’s ben a long way off what he was producing at his peak in one day cricket.
It’s hard to pinpoint reasons why Mitchell Starc hasn’t been firing on all cylinders. Peaking for a world cup, which can certainly be argued carries more weight than a bilateral series, could be one. Also the amount of management that goes into looking after fast bowlers in the modern day could be another. Injuries have played a role too, like they do for just about every fast bowler. Only 7 matches in 2 years suggests he is being looked after at a great extent by the coaching staff, plus ankle and pec muscle injuries also have played a role over the last few years.
By coming back to the present though leaves us with a question for the future. Can the player that was outstanding for Australia when they won the last tournament find his feet again, and be a force in this world cup?
Can a player who has, statistically anyway, been down on form for a few years now, be the spearhead his country would love him to be for the 9, potentially 11 matches in June and July in England?
A look at Starc’s record in England isn’t overly flattering. If you take out the 4/29 against Bangladesh at the ICC Champions Trophy tournament two years ago, he has 7 wickets at 56 in his other 7 matches. Not the types of returns that will install Justin Langer and Aaron Finch with too much confidence.
Can Mitchell Starc combine with his other pacemen to deliver the goods once again in a big tournament for Australia?
We are about to find out.