Australia to keep Starc fresh for Lord’s
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.”