Weekend Argus (Sunday Edition)

Starc reality of the big-time for Proteas Test newcomer Mulder

- STUART HESS

WIAAN MULDER got his first ‘proper’ taste of how mean and nasty these Australian­s can be in a mini battle with Mitchell Starc in Benoni yesterday that had him ducking, weaving and copping a volley of verbals from the leader of the Australian attack.

Cricket SA announced the Test squad just as the teams were walking onto the field here in the morning, with Mulder’s inclusion something of a surprise.

By lunch, the Australian­s would have known that the fresh faced kid, batting at No7was in the squad for the first two Tests, and they’d have set out to make life as uncomforta­ble for him as possible when he batted again.

At around 1pm he made his way to the centre at the fall of the fifth wicket, and there was an almost immediate increase in the intensity of Australia’s play. Suddenly there was a leg slip, a short leg and the volume of chatter increased.

Starc’s first ball to Mulder was short of a good length and veered away sharply from the 20-year-old. The touring team’s spearhead followed the ball with a lengthy verbal inquisitio­n, and bowled three bouncers thereafter, each followed by a few words.

By the end of the over, Nathan Lyon at leg slip had chimed in with his opinion as had Cameron Bancroft at short-leg. It was a case of ‘welcome to the big time,’ for Mulder

There was no let up when Starc started his next over, this time testing Mulder’s front foot play, the second ball was edged passed third slip to the boundary for four. Starc smiled.

The fifth ball was nudged out onto the off side and Mulder crossed for a single. Starc waited, and had some more to say, and Mulder to his credit stared him down. He may not quite be Starc’s stature – physically or in terms of his career – but he was not going to allow himself to be bullied.

Sadly umpire Johan Cloete, raised his finger when Mitchell Marsh, ambitiousl­y appealed for lbw, with the ball appearing to be missing Mulder’s legstump.

His innings lasted just 11 minutes and 11 balls, but it would have given him an insight into Test cricket, and just how competitiv­e – and mean – these Australian­s really are.

The tourists, got everything they could have wanted out of this match; miles in the legs for their bowlers, and time at the crease for most of their batsmen.

There will be concerns over Nathan Lyon, though, as he bowled 32 overs taking just one wicket for 112 runs.

The first Test starts at Kingsmead on Thursday.

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