The lessons Mitchell Starc doesn’t need to learn

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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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  1. Everyone seems to be terrified of Mitchell Starc. I’m much more frightened of Josh Hazlewood. I imagine they’ll both play, and we’ll all get to see who’s more terrifying.

  2. England have something of a quandary in this series, as to what sort of tactics they will employ. But that’s nothing compared to the tactical morass that England fans find themselves in. Previously it has been easy for the fans to mentally prepare for an Ashes series. Before 2005 you just assumed we would lose, so you went about finding new and inventive ways of despising the Australian team for existing. From 2005 onwards, rightly or wrongly, you assumed that we would be in with a chance, if not outright favourites, and so tried to find new and inventive ways of humiliating the Australian team for being rubbish.

    This time, it was going to be easy. England were awful, Australia were good, so a rehashing of the pre-2005 method was the obvious choice. Then the Kiwis brought across a decent team, and England played decently well against them. But not so well as to remove the doubt. I thought England had absolutely no chance, but now I think they do have a chance, albeit a small one. Or possibly a bit more than small, what with Cook back to form and Root playing well and English conditions and Jos Buttler and Duke balls and Australia not being dominant against the West Indies and Australia being over the hill and Steve Smith having run out of his stockpile of runs.

    So what to do? Should we laugh at them and risk a humiliating fall, or should we afford them an amount of respect they might not deserve, possibly inflating their egos to the point where it becomes self-fulfilling? I just don’t know. This article set off mocking the Australians, then switched to lauding their talent and skill as if we’d already lost. We need leadership here, not wishy-washy vacillation. Are we scared and respectful, or are we confident and rude?

  3. Bairstow and Bresnan have just broken the all-time County Championship seventh-wicket partnership record. Too late for a recall, to bolster our reserves of wicketkeepers and RFM?

    1. Apparrrrrrrrrently, Yorkshire’s total was the first 500+ score in division 1 this season. Proof that the top-class battings are far more difficult.

  4. Apparently the second variety of broccoflower has fractal patterns on its flower head. I think what KC is implying here is that Starc, when magnified, would be seen to be composed of smaller Starcs, the pattern continuing all the way down TO HIS VERY SOUL.

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