Aus­tralia to keep Starc fresh for Lord’s

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - The Ashes - By Nick Hoult

Mitchell Starc was the lead­ing wicket-taker in the World Cup, but looks set to miss out in the first Ashes Test, un­der­lin­ing the depth of Aus­tralian fast bowl­ing.

Aus­tralia ap­pear ready to hold Starc back for the sec­ond Test at Lord’s, where he took nine wick­ets in two World Cup matches and his ex­tra pace might be re­quired.

With Pat Cum­mins, James Pat­tin­son and Nathan Lyon as­sured of play­ing at Edg­bas­ton, it leaves Aus­tralia with a choice for their fi­nal bowl­ing berth be­tween Starc, Josh Ha­zle­wood and Peter Sid­dle.

Ha­zle­wood missed the World Cup to be ready for the Ashes, while Sid­dle has a strong record in Eng­land and Aus­tralia made a mis­take on the last tour when they picked him only for the fi­nal Test at the Oval. Ha­zle­wood is quicker, but ex­tra pace may not be needed at Edg­bas­ton, where be­ing able to ex­ploit the con­di­tions could be more im­mances por­tant. This would suit Sid­dle, who has helped Es­sex to the top of the cham­pi­onship with 34 wick­ets.

“He [Sid­dle] is bril­liant. The en­ergy he brings to the room, he’s 34 go­ing on 15, I reckon,” said Justin Langer, the Aus­tralia coach. “He has such great en­ergy. Some­one said to me last night who works in English cricket, he’s a bit like [Glenn] Mc­grath, a shorter ver­sion of Mc­grath. He bowls well here, he hits the top of the stumps all the time, he tests tech­niques all the time. He’s got good en­durance, he’s a very fit ath­lete.

“If he plays on Thurs­day, with the over­head con­di­tions, he’ll be a real hand­ful. He also brings that great men­tor­ship to the team. He’s got over 200 Test wick­ets.”

Starc took 27 wick­ets in the World Cup, but had a poor Test se­ries against In­dia last win­ter, when he strug­gled to find any move­ment through the air, and av­er­aged 30 in Eng­land four years ago.

Pat­tin­son has bowled his way into the team through his per­for­for Not­ting­hamshire and has ben­e­fited from a care­fully man­aged work­load since se­ri­ous back surgery in late 2017, when his ca­reer looked in doubt. His pace and full length make him dan­ger­ous.

Langer de­clined to name his team, but Cameron Ban­croft will make his re­turn, open­ing the bat­ting with David Warner. It means the Cape Town ball-tam­per­ers, in­clud­ing Steve Smith, are re­united at the first op­por­tu­nity, with to­mor­row’s Test the first time all three have been avail­able since the scan­dal broke last year.

Langer has known Ban­croft since he was a ju­nior crick­eter in West­ern Aus­tralia and be­lieves he has the men­tal strength to deal with the hos­tile at­mos­phere at Edg­bas­ton, the most par­ti­san of English grounds. “The work he’s done on him­self the last 12 months has been out­stand­ing. He’s phys­i­cally as tough as any­one you’ve seen in your life. Men­tally he’ll have to be strong.

“I know what the re­cep­tion’s go­ing to be. We all do. But it is what it is. There’s noth­ing we can do about that. It’s 100 per cent out of our con­trol and that’s OK. We’ve been to lots of Ashes se­ries and they’re all the same. Eng­land are the same when they come to Aus­tralia.

“It’s tough. That’s just the en­vi­ron­ment we’re in. You go to Cape Town or Jo­han­nes­burg, it’s like be­ing in the Gladiator movie. Steven and David have had a pretty good dress re­hearsal dur­ing the World Cup. I thought they were bril­liant how they be­haved and re­sponded to it with bat. They kept smiling and it will be no dif­fer­ent in the Ashes.”

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