WORLD CRICKET’S RISING STARC
Mitchell Starc has become one of the premier young fast bowlers in world cricket. He has cemented a spot in Australia’s emerging pace battery, winning selection in all three forms of the game. Now he is recovering from injury to lead Australia’s bid to reclaim the Ashes urn.
You’ve just had ankle surgery and have been in a moon boot since the Indian tour. How is that coming along?
It’s going well. I’ve just been doing what I need to do to get it right and working my way back. I’m just about ready to start running again.
Was that part of the reason you didn’t go in the IPL auction?
Not really. I didn’t go in it originally because I’ve had such a big two years. I just wanted some time at home to refresh and just try and have six weeks where I could get back in the gym and cool my jets a bit before what will hopefully be a big winter in England and then here in Australia. Timing wise when you look at it now it’s worked out pretty well but that wasn’t originally the thought.
Now that it’s on do you have any regrets? Given how well you went at the Champions League for the Sydney Sixers you would have pulled in some serious cash in the auction.
Yeah well finally it would have been great I guess but if I had my time again I wouldn’t change a thing. The last three weeks have been great for me and it’s the most time I’ve spent at home in the past two years.
You confident the ankle will be right for the Ashes?
Absolutely. It’s still touch and go for the Champions Trophy but we will have a clearer idea once I start bowling again. But unless there are any major hiccups there shouldn’t be a problem to be available for selection for the Ashes.
Does the squad feel like the Ashes are there for the taking?
When we were in India there was no talk about the Ashes but I know there has there’s been a lot of thought and time put into preparing for it. At the moment there are some guys home in Australia relaxing, others are playing county cricket and there’s a heap in the IPL. As a squad there hasn’t been a great deal of talk about it yet apart from a bit of media hype. But I guess once the squad is selected we will really knuckle down and get ourselves ready for that tour.
There’s plenty of hype already though.
Yeah and it’s going to be a massive tour. We can win. As we saw England didn’t win a game in New Zealand just recently. It’s going to be a very competitive series but there’s no reason why we can’t win.
Pace is Australia’s ace isn’t it?
Yeah and coming from India every wicket is going to feel like a green seamer for us. We’ve got a good group of fast bowlers and there’s plenty of guys in domestic cricket who have been going really well and could be picked for Australia as well. There’s probably eight or so guys that could be picked.
The Duke ball should help too? You’ve used it in county cricket with Yorkshire
I only played two games of red ball cricket when I was there but it swung around a lot for us. I was playing with Ryan Sidebottom at Yorkshire and he’s played a lot for England. There was one game we had the ball swinging around for 80 overs. In England with the Duke ball we know it’s going to swing around and the wickets should have a bit more in them for the quicks. So as a fast bowler it’s a place you really look forward to going and playing. It could be hard work with the bat but the quicks are certainly looking forward to it.
What did you learn out of your time with Yorkshire that you’ll take into the Ashes series?
It’s a very different place to play. We had Ryan and the coach was Jason Gillespie so it was good to pick the brains of those two and tap into their experience. Dizzy is pretty laid back so I talked to him about it a fair bit. It was my first time in England so to learn the conditions so it was good to see how the English batsmen play. It’s slightly different to how Australian batsmen go about their cricket. I would have liked to have played a bit more red ball cricket but even with the white ball cricket it was all good experience I’m sure will help me out on the tour.
How excited are you about the prospect of playing a test match at Lord’s?
I was just talking about that the other day. I’ve never been there so it will be nice to get the opportunity to run out there and if I get the chance to play it would be pretty special.
The ground is legendary for how much it drops away so there’s a slope there for the bowlers. Could be handy for a guy who hoops it back in like you do.
It might do. A lot of the grounds in England have a slope one way or another. It took me a game or so to get used to it when I was there last year. Whether it be up the hill or down the hill or across the ground. Most of the grounds have something like that. If that can help us that would be great.
Are you ready for the banter you’ll cop from the crowds?
I copped a bit of the Pommy banter when I was at Yorkshire and that was from our own fans! They love giving to the Aussies no matter who they’re playing for. So that was a taste of it. I’m sure the Barmy Army will be nice and loud and will be giving it to anyone regardless of how well or how bad they’re going. I guess it’s just something you have to embrace and understand you’re going to cop some stick. It’s a long tour so you’ve just got to make sure it doesn’t affect your performance.
Were the Ashes a distraction in any way on the tour of India?
No there wasn’t any mention of it at all. Obviously it was a pretty tough tour on the field so we didn’t have to complicate it any more by thinking too far ahead. It was more about learning as we went along. I think it’s pretty important we learn from that and ensure that we all improve as cricketers and be better the next time we get a chance to tour there.
How is the morale in the squad after a series defeat like that?
It was completely different to what was written to be honest. We’re a pretty strong unit and that was pretty evident straight after the meetings we had. Everybody was buzzing about and getting behind each other. We saw little glimpses of improvement throughout the tour. There’s no hiding behind the fact that we didn’t do as well as we wanted to do but the morale was very good throughout the whole tour.
The homework episode was pretty weird though wasn’t it?
It was a bit different yeah.
As serious as it was and the reasons behind it, there must have been a few laughs about it as time went on?
Well enough of us are on twitter so we saw plenty of what was being written by the public and in the media. We all had a bit of a laugh at a few of the tweets. There was one about Davey Warner failing his homework and there was a picture drawn up was pretty funny. We all had a laugh about that. I guess we saw the funny side of it afterwards but it came after a pretty serious meeting to re-assess our culture and make sure we’re all going in the right direction.
Let’s be honest, it was a thumping. 4-nil. But it probably only came down to a few lost sessions that cost you test matches didn’t it?
Yeah that’s right. And I think that was especially evident in the second and third tests when it was really only one partnership that India had that put us behind. Other than that you know in that second test we took what nine for 180 or so and in the third test it was roughly the same. There were big partnerships that really hurt us. There were a lot of positives to take out of it but at the same time we know we have to be better.
Did the batting group go away from the series thinking that India’s top-order had given them a blueprint on how to bat time?
Yeah I think they can. They batted very well. But it was just those big partnerships that hurt us. We did bowl well for a long time but it wasn’t long enough. There were times where we bowled well for a hole session at them but they were good enough to see it out, face all those balls and then they came out again and eventually got away from us. I think as a bowling unit we have to maintain that pressure for longer and as a batting unit learn from what the Indians did to us.
Maybe they could learn from you. You had a pretty good time with the bat yourself. A test match 99 is pretty handy.
It’s always nice to score a few runs. One more would have been nice. I had a lot of fun out there. It was predominantly about trying to hang around for Steve Smith to score his ton. Unfortunately he missed out so then I ended up having a lot of fun out there with Nathan Lyon. We’ve had a few innings there where we’ve had a lot of jokes and a few laughs. We enjoy batting together so that helps. It was nice to contribute. To try and hang around for a bit and then change my game a little bit to try and score some runs.
At what point did you start to think gee a test ton isn’t far off here?
I think that’s where I went wrong. I looked up and saw I was on about 80 and thought ‘gee that’s gone quick.’ Then I looked up again and I was in the 90’s and I thought ‘oh no what am I going to do here?’ I started to get a bit jittery and couldn’t find a run. Nathan made the point that I started to go a bit quiet. He reckons he didn’t know what to say. I think if I hadn’t seen my score I might have been okay.
Somehow you had a smile on your face though. What did they say in the dressing room?
I don’t think it was a proper smile. I think I was just trying to hide the tears. I was probably lucky that we had to go out and bowl straight after I got out because it meant I didn’t have too much time to think about it. There was a bit of a pat on the back from the guys which is always nice but it hurts not to get that one extra run.
You’ve got a really fluent, mechanically correct bowling action. Is it something you’ve tried to perfect?
It’s something I’ve worked at to make sure I’m pretty smooth and moving naturally. I find when I slow it down a bit is when I’m bowling my best. Nothing is rushed and things just feel right. I guess everyone goes through times where they feel out of rhythm but I’ve worked hard to try and find that point where things are working nicely. It might look good but as long as it feels good is the main thing. I’ve got my cues now that I can tick off to make sure I’m doing what I need to do.
Could be. I’m pretty flexible too. A few of the physios have said I might be over flexible so that can hurt at some point. I’ve still had my fair share of issues but I’ve been lucky with my back and hopefully that can keep going.
You made massive strides with your cricket after a session with Wasim Akram. Was that as priceless as we all assume it was?
It was only pretty brief. About 20 minutes. But to be able to consult with someone who has been there and done that and obviously a legend of the game was fantastic. Obviously with him being a left-armer was good for me. Just little things he mentioned that I went away and worked at were helpful. It doesn’t matter who you talk to, some things might not work for you because no one is the same. But there was things he showed me with wrist position and trying to swing it the other way as well. He even showed me a few himself. He was in his suit and wearing the flash shoes and he came in and swung them around. He’s still got it. I’ve seen him in passing when he’s commentating and at the Champions League last year and we always spend a couple of minutes just talking about bowling. It’s a great little friendship to have.
You mentioned Jason Gillespie as your Yorkshire coach. Who would have thought when he was playing he’d end up being such a great coach but he’s really highly regarded isn’t he?
He’s great and the guys love him. I still keep in touch with the Yorkshire boys and they talk so highly of him. He gets a lot out of the guys. He’s a pretty relaxed sort of a guy and a pretty relaxed coach as well. And I think that’s what makes him a great coach because he knows when he has to step in and say a few words. He’s doing a great job at Yorkshire.
We don’t want to do your bowling coach Ali de Winter out of a job here but Dizzy would be a pretty good acquisition for Cricket Australia wouldn’t he?
I’m sure he would be. But at the same time he’s pretty happy where he is and he’s made it pretty clear he doesn’t want to move. But Ali has been going great as well and doing great things with the bowling group. The bowlers all love working with Ali. But yeah anyone who has as much cricket knowledge as Dizzy and has done it himself for his country would be a great pick-up.
You’re dating Alyssa Healy who plays for the Australian women’s team. Does it help that you each have an understanding of what it takes to play at the top level?
Yeah for sure. We try not to talk too much cricket at home but it’s always nice to have someone who understands the time we have to be away and what you’re going through on and off the field. It can get tough when we’re both touring at the same time and spending a lot of time away from each other but there is that understanding there and we can help each other out.