This is looming as Mitchell Starc’s summer

Date: October 16, 2015 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell

StarcMitchell Starc has swapped the white ball for the red. After devastating four opponents in the Matador Cup the lanky left-armer is in Sydney as part of a two-day camp ahead of the first Test of the summer against New Zealand.

Earlier this year Starc was feted as the Player of the Tournament in the World Cup. In his eight matches at the sport’s premier one-day event he claimed 22 wickets at 10.2, highlighted by a stunning 6-28 against the Black Caps at Auckland which nearly landed Australia the most unlikely of victories.

By tournament’s end he had climbed to the top of the ODI world rankings.

His form at the start of this summer has again underlined Starc’s lethality with the white ball. His 19 wickets at the astonishing average of 6.0 have catapulted New South Wales to the top of the Matador Cup table and a remarkable five bonus points from just four outings.

In Starc’s 69 List A matches to date he has captured 147 wickets at 18.7 with nine four-wicket hauls and eight five wicket returns.

His red-ball performances pale in comparison. His 53 first-class appearances have produced 174 wickets at 29.3.

Twenty-two of those matches have been played in the baggy green where he has claimed 78 wickets at 31.8. This summer Starc will have the chance to improve those figures. Both he and Cricket Australia will be desperately hoping he does.

At 25 years of age Starc is in the prime of his career and importantly he enters the summer as an incumbent in the Test side. A consistent spot in Australia’s Test pace battery regularly eluded him in his formative years in Test ranks.

There was a period where he must have felt he was stuck in a revolving door. By the time he had played his first 15 Tests he had been dropped seven times. Every time he set foot on a Test ground he was playing for his immediate future as he was never selected for more than three Tests in a row.

Following his explosive performance at the World Cup he was selected for the Caribbean tour in June where he captured ten wickets across the two Tests. From there it was to England where he took part in each of the five Tests. In that ill-fated Ashes campaign he captured 18 wickets at 30.5.

Many of those wickets were garnered as a result of his devastating late swinging yorker, a delivery that has become a trademark of his destructive feats in the limited-overs arena.

Across the Ashes series Starc was consistently the fastest bowler, regularly flirting with the 150km/h mark. With Mitchell Johnson coming off a lean Ashes series and on the cusp of turning 34 he is very much in the twilight of his career.

Former skipper Mark Taylor has gone on record as saying Johnson is playing for his spot in the side in the early stages of this first-class summer. With that in mind the selectors need someone to take up the mantle as the team’s primary intimidator and strike force.

At 1.96m and with pace to burn Starc should be eyeing that role. This summer must be the one where he steps up and shows that he has the ability and determination to take the leadership role in what is soon to become an inexperienced international pace attack.

The confidence garnered from a stunning year in coloured clothing and the fact that he has been able to play through two Test series without feeling the axe descend should set him up for a big summer.

He has the tools. Now is the time for him to put them all into play while bedecked in creams. If he does he will become an integral component in Steve Smith’s plan to take Australia back towards the top of the Test tree.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 15 October 2015, soliciting 26 comments