Tag: Mitchell Starc

The day James Vince didn’t edge one

It had to happen eventually. Today was the day James Vince finally managed to avoid edging one to slip.

And it was so easy to avoid. All he had to do was persuade an opposition bowler to aim a 90mph delivery about a foot wide of leg stump only for it to hit some sort of chasm which would persuade it to chart a new course for off stump.

He did his best though, did Jimmy the Nick. Presented with this heinous crime against physics, our boy presented the full outside edge of the bat. Alas, for once he couldn’t make contact.

We all have our limits.

Pace and sustained pace – Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are half an attack

The Ashes at the MCG (CC licensed by Drew Douglas via Flickr)

As the pre-Ashes war of words hits a dizzying peak of meaninglessness, it’s worth reflecting on something said long after a previous series had finished.

Reflecting on the team’s modus operandi during The Mitchell Johnson Ashes, Peter Siddle said: “The key stat for us is maidens. The more maidens you bowl, the more pressure builds, and obviously the more back-to-back maidens you can bowl – that plays a massive part. Then they’re looking for that quick single or pushing at one they normally wouldn’t because they want to get off strike.”

As we observed in the linked article, some aspects of a team’s ‘brand of cricket’ will always command more attention, even if other aspects may be equally important.

Same again this time around. Australia are apparently fielding a ‘fearsome’ pace attack that may well blow England away but may also find itself blowing in the red-faced, hands-on-knees, rasping lungs, leaden legs sense.

Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins are ‘strike bowlers,’ which sounds really scary until you remember that it basically just means that they get tired quite quickly. This isn’t always such a problem, but when you only field four bowlers, it certainly can be – and even if some of England’s specialists leave something to be desired, they do still have a long batting line-up.

Will Starc and Cummins still be ‘taking the pitch out of the equation’ in the evening session or will they be bowling at the same pace as England’s fourth seamer by then?

It’s evident that Australia will be looking to Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon to bowl plenty of overs. When it comes to shouldering workload, this is Plan A and they have no Plan B unless Steve Smith’s going to bring his flapping chicken dance bowling action out of semi-retirement. (Here’s hoping.)

England will be aware of this and they will know that their batsmen have three very obvious options.

  1. Preserve wickets and force Starc and Cummins to come back for more and more spells
  2. Hit Nathan Lyon out of the attack and force Starc and Cummins to come back for more and more spells
  3. Get out and lose the Test match

Presumably they’ll be looking to go for one of the first two. We’ve no idea which is the better option, but the decision might shape the first Test.

Two hat tricks in one match – has Mitchell Starc peaked too soon?

Sometimes you can’t be bothered sourcing an actual photo and just use something from the archives

We can’t remember the last time we used the phrase ‘peaked too soon’ to refer to anything other than someone we went to school with who hasn’t aged well.

Mitchell Starc took two hat tricks for New South Wales against Western Australia. In the words of Osman Samiuddin, he did an Amin Lakhani.

One hat trick is a lot of hat tricks, so two is a glut. Too soon. Starc will almost certainly be overbowled or injured come The Magellan Ashes (movement rate of all ships is increased by two).

A counterpoint to this is that maybe this run of hat tricks doesn’t quite constitute a peak. Even allowing for their obvious weaknesses, England will hope to put out better batsmen than Jason Behrendorff, David Moody and Simon Mackin in the first Test. Only at the climax of his second hat trick did Starc dismiss an actual batsman – Jono Wells.

Even so, it’s hard to see that any bowler’s got much room for improvement above twin hat tricks, so The Magellan Ashes (movement rate of all ships is increased by two) is basically England’s already.

The Mitchell Johnson bowling action – a nasty and effective and unreliable thing

Mitchell Johnson contributed some extremely interesting cricket and you can’t ask for much more than that from a player. Overall, his record is very good, but that long-term-very-goodness was created by opposing short-term extremes.

At his best, Johnson was as exciting to watch as pretty much any cricketer ever. If your team was playing against Australia, you may not have enjoyed the spectacle, but you can’t say it didn’t raise the heart-rate. It wasn’t so much the pace, as that sense that the entire match could be decided in short order.

Set against that, his worst was comically dire. This is of course just as entertaining and therefore, in our eyes, every bit as worthwhile. Friend or foe, Johnson will be missed.

Where’s the ball gone?

If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from the impact of Good Johnson, it’s that even in its purest form, fast bowling isn’t all about pace – it’s about reaction times. Ed Cowan helps us understand this with an account of what it was like to face him.

“He rocks back after the familiar rhythmical approach, and then it seems you wait an eternity for the ball to be launched towards you. An ever-so-brief moment of panic can sweep across you as you realise he has let it go but you have not picked it up until the ball is halfway down.

“There is certainly some luck involved in getting through those early exchanges – if one delivery is on the money, your day can be over before it really begins. So much of the advance information gained by batsmen about the length of a delivery vanishes when the bowler possesses such an action.”

You can get half an idea of what he means by watching this video comparing the actions of Mitchells Starc and Johnson.

At this point, Johnson’s bowling arm is already down and the ball is well on its way to being released…


… but yet the two bowlers release the ball at (almost) the same time. As Cowan says, there’s almost a pause when the ball’s behind Johnson in his delivery stride; a coiled-spring moment that gives the batsman a split second to ponder what’s to come and also denies him the rhythm he needs to react properly.

Starc is the archetypal thoroughbred fast bowler. Johnson was the Whangotron 9000. For all that a smooth, languid bowling action might be more aesthetically pleasing, in many ways the Johnson method presents more of a threat.

Who’s your favourite Mitch? And who’s your least favourite?

Not much is happening in the cricket at the minute, so we might as well busy ourselves tackling the difficult philosophical questions. If three Mitches play cricket for Australia, is it possible to have a favourite?

For us, this is the order in which we’d place them – best at the top.

  1. Mitchell Starc
  2. Mitchell Johnson
  3. Mitchell Marsh

If we try and explain our reasoning, it seems our preference is largely based on cricketing reasons, which is something of a surprise. In short, we feel that Starc ‘deserves’ success, while Marsh doesn’t.

We remember in the early days of Jason Gillespie’s career, Steve Waugh (or possibly even Mark Taylor) tried to embiggen him before an Ashes series by saying he was the best bowler in the world. It was bollocks, obviously – he was only the third-best bowler in the team – but the captain did at least put forward a reasoned argument.

He said that Gillespie was the perfect fast bowler. He said he was tall, bowled 90-odd mph and swung it both ways, all of which was true at the time. We kind of feel the same about Mitchell Starc, only he’s also a left-armer. We figure if a player has all of those qualities, he should be successful otherwise much of what we believe about cricket is wrong.

As for Marsh, he’s a medium-pacer and an Aussie all-rounder. If they prove effective, it again calls into question much of what we believe about cricket.

On the plus side, there’s a Twitter account about Mitch Marsh that we find funny largely on the grounds that we don’t get it. Merchell Mersh communicates with weird neanderthal vowel sounds and that’s pretty much the joke.

We generally just try and avoid thinking about Mitchell Johnson.

The lessons Mitchell Starc doesn’t need to learn

We remember seeing a story in the local paper once where a woman had come second in some sort of vegetable growing competition despite being the only person to have entered that particular category.

Let’s say she grew a broccoflower – which is apparently a thing. In a world class diss, the judges decided that Janice’s broccoflower was only worthy of a silver medal despite unarguably being the best broccoflower on display. Second in a competition of one. Janice probably wished she’d never entered.

Sections of the Australian media have a tendency to do the reverse of this. They perceive the nation’s best fast bowlers as being exceptional purely on the basis that they’re the best available. At times like now, when there’s been talk that Mitchell Johnson or Ryan Harris being omitted from the Test team, that makes perfect sense – Australia do indeed have some very good quick bowlers. However, a couple of years ago, back when the team was rubbish, it led to a slightly delusional confusion between promise and quality.

Back then, during Johnson’s lull, a whole host of young quicks were touted as being possibilities for the Test team. They were spoken of largely because there weren’t many established players doing a decent job, but many people took the fact that they were being mentioned as a weird sort of proof of their ability.

Mitchell Starc was one of these players. He played a few Tests, and may have done a bit better if he’d ever been allowed more than one match in a row, but it wasn’t some devastating start. It was promising, but not much more than that. It rather feels as if he’s moved on from that now though.

Not much has happened in Test cricket since then, but there’s increasingly a sense that Starc is now fully-formed. Sometimes it makes sense to distinguish between one-day and Test formats, but it depends on the player. Starc is no Nathan Bracken style white ball specialist. What has made him so frighteningly successful in the shorter formats is just as relevant – if not more relevant – in the grown-ups’ game.

For England fans there’s a horrible suspicion that this summer will be when the left-armer kicks off his flip-flops and makes himself comfortable in Test cricket. He’s spent time with Yorkshire. He’s toured once before. Plenty of the usual mistakes that every foreign quick bowler makes are behind him. Invisibly, when no-one was really watching, plenty of lessons have already been learnt.

The broccoflower competition’s a bit more hotly-contested this year, but Starc may still secure first place.

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