Mitchell Starc has promised England’s tail a barrage of hostile bowling during the Ashes series and revealed he and his fellow quicks have been discussing Stuart Broad’s loss of confidence with the bat.
One of the features of the 5-0 whitewash in 2013-14 was the dismantling of England’s lower order – primarily through the express pace of Mitchell Johnson – whose last five wickets produced a paltry average return of just 50 first-innings runs in the series, compared with Australia’s 143.
Starc, who did not participate in the one-sided Ashes series 18 months ago but whose 22 wickets at 10 runs apiece meant he was named man of the tournament at the batsman-dominated World Cup this year, hopes he and his fellow left-arm quick Johnson can repeat the destruction job, starting with Wednesday’s first Test in Cardiff.
“We will definitely be coming hard at all their batsmen, especially the tail,” said the 25-year-old, who took 10 wickets during Australia’s recent 2-0 series win over West Indies . “They will definitely be coming hard at us; I am sure we will get our share of short balls as well.”
Among those looking to rectify this deficiency over the course of the upcoming series is England’s No9 Broad. His batting has shown signs of recovery this summer since he suffered a broken nose against India at Old Trafford last year, a blow which he claimed gave him nightmares and which caused a lack of form that led to calls for him to move down to No11 despite him boasting a Test best score of 169.
“[Broad’s] batting has changed in the last period of time – he has lost a bit of that confidence as well and there has been a bit of chat about that,” Starc said. “But he does not come in till later on. We have got to get through the top order first and foremost but we will not be making life easy for them at the back end either.”
Despite this fighting talk, Starc is aware that his Test returns are yet to match those of his 50-over career, with just two five-wicket hauls in his 17 caps to date, both of which have come at home. Natural pace delivered from a 6ft 5in frame and his ability to swing the ball into the right-hander – and away from England’s seven left-handers – will make him a threat, however.
After Ryan Harris, another star in the 2013-14 season, was forced to retire over the weekend because of a longstanding knee injury, Starc is likely to line up in Cardiff alongside Johnson and the relative rookie Josh Hazlewood – who claimed the man-of-the-series award in the Caribbean with 12 wickets.
“I definitely enjoyed that series back home when Mitch and Rhino [Harris] were making them jump around, so hopefully I can do the same thing,” said Starc. “It is always good to see batsmen jumping around. But the batsmen will have good days too so it should be an entertaining series and a toughly-contested one.”
For all this macho talk about aggressive bowling, Starc is not the type to be verbal on the field however, instead preferring to concentrate on the job in hand. “I am not the same all-out aggression like Mitch,” he said. “And I am not going to change the way I play cricket just for one series. I am not one to chirp the batsmen when I am trying to bowl, I am just trying to concentrate and do my own thing.”
Asked how he felt about being tipped as the most dangerous bowler on show, Starc said: “It is flattering but I have a long way to go with the red and the white ball.”