Infotainment Factory: Mitchell Starc injury sounds Ashes alarm

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Thursday, 7 February 2019

Mitchell Starc injury sounds Ashes alarm


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It’s the dark cloud that hangs over Australia’s Ashes defence … but fortunately there is a silver lining.

This week’s revelations that fast bowler Mitchell Starc will miss the upcoming limited overs tour to India with what’s been described as a “substantial tear to his left pec muscle” highlights just how difficult the winter will be for Australia’s fast-bowling stocks.

With Josh Hazlewood already sidelined with a back injury, two-thirds of the national side’s first choice pacemen will be watching on TV while Australia finalises preparations for the World Cup, due to begin in less than four months.

Who seriously thinks the trio will all get through a World Cup of up to 11 games, followed by a five match Ashes series that begins two weeks later?

Mitchell Starc

Hazlewood (10th), Starc (18th) and Cummins (20th) are Australia’s three highest ranked ODI bowlers, but selectors will have to manage them through the World Cup with half an eye on the Ashes series.

A quick check of the records reveals just how much Australia has relied on “the big three” in recent years. Since the start of 2017, Australian pace bowlers have taken 236 Test wickets, with Cummins (87), Starc (70) and

Hazlewood (62) accounting for 219 of those. The next fast bowler on the list is Jhye Richardson, who took six wickets in his two Tests against Sri Lanka, while out of favour all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has also taken six wickets in that period.

Although all three have missed a significant number of ODIs, in the same period they also rank first, second and third on the list of Australian wicket-takers in the 50-over format, highlighting their importance with the white ball as well, especially with the World Cup set to be played in England at a time of year that traditionally favours the quick bowlers.

The prospect of Australia being forced to turn to an inexperienced fast bowler in a major Test series immediately throws up comparisons with the 1995 series against the West Indies.

With established pair Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming both late scratchings, Australia turned to a 25-year-old Glenn McGrath, who at the time had played just nine Tests and taken 25 wickets at the unflattering average of 38.32.

McGrath, along with the equally unfancied Paul Reiffel and Brendon Julian, helped Australia to a 2-1 series victory and never looked back.

Mark Taylor captained Australia in that series, and says the appearance of a new star is one of the great things about sport.

“McGrath put his hand up in the West Indies in 1995. He’d debuted 18 months earlier but everyone thought he was too skinny and didn’t do much with the ball,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports.

“If Australia wins the Ashes this year it might not be on the back of Smith and Warner making 500 runs and Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins taking 25 wickets each.

“A new hero might stand up.”

Josh Hazlewood

Another former Australian captain, Ian Chappell, says the current injuries to Starc and Hazlewood highlight the need for selectors to think beyond the short term.

“While you’re always looking to pick sides to win the next game, you’ve got to look ahead and plan for the future as well,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“In a period like this you definitely need a group of bowlers to share the load.

“But bear in mind these current injuries might be a blessing.

“Starc and Hazlewood are getting a rest now, it might just freshen them up a bit ahead of the winter.”

Both Taylor and Chappell are in agreement that Jhye Richardson, who made his Test debut in the recently completed series against Sri Lanka, has the goods to succeed.

“Sooner or later someone may have to stand up and become a Test match bowler. That might be Richardson if the opportunity comes his way,” Taylor said.

“I like what he did in the Tests he played, admittedly against weaker opposition.

“You don’t need to have done an apprenticeship to become an Ashes winning bowler.”

Chappell also threw up one forgotten name that could play a key part in the series if the opportunity arises – James Pattinson.

James Pattinson

The Victorian quick played the last of his 17 Tests more than three years ago, and is on the comeback trail after spinal surgery forced him to miss the entire 2017-18 summer.

His four Sheffield Shield matches this summer have yielded just nine wickets, but Chappell says if the 28-year-old is at his best, he’s as good as anyone in Australia.

“If Pattinson is in form he’s just as good as the big three.

“It’s a bit of a question mark with him because he’s had so many injuries.

“But if he’s firing, you don’t lose anything at all with him in the team.”

It’s the dark cloud that hangs over Australia’s Ashes defence … but fortunately there is a silver lining.

This week’s revelations that fast bowler Mitchell Starc will miss the upcoming limited overs tour to India with what’s been described as a “substantial tear to his left pec muscle” highlights just how difficult the winter will be for Australia’s fast-bowling stocks.

With Josh Hazlewood already sidelined with a back injury, two-thirds of the national side’s first choice pacemen will be watching on TV while Australia finalises preparations for the World Cup, due to begin in less than four months.

Who seriously thinks the trio will all get through a World Cup of up to 11 games, followed by a five match Ashes series that begins two weeks later?

Mitchell Starc

Hazlewood (10th), Starc (18th) and Cummins (20th) are Australia’s three highest ranked ODI bowlers, but selectors will have to manage them through the World Cup with half an eye on the Ashes series.

A quick check of the records reveals just how much Australia has relied on “the big three” in recent years. Since the start of 2017, Australian pace bowlers have taken 236 Test wickets, with Cummins (87), Starc (70) and

Hazlewood (62) accounting for 219 of those. The next fast bowler on the list is Jhye Richardson, who took six wickets in his two Tests against Sri Lanka, while out of favour all-rounder Mitchell Marsh has also taken six wickets in that period.

Although all three have missed a significant number of ODIs, in the same period they also rank first, second and third on the list of Australian wicket-takers in the 50-over format, highlighting their importance with the white ball as well, especially with the World Cup set to be played in England at a time of year that traditionally favours the quick bowlers.

The prospect of Australia being forced to turn to an inexperienced fast bowler in a major Test series immediately throws up comparisons with the 1995 series against the West Indies.

With established pair Craig McDermott and Damien Fleming both late scratchings, Australia turned to a 25-year-old Glenn McGrath, who at the time had played just nine Tests and taken 25 wickets at the unflattering average of 38.32.

McGrath, along with the equally unfancied Paul Reiffel and Brendon Julian, helped Australia to a 2-1 series victory and never looked back.

Mark Taylor captained Australia in that series, and says the appearance of a new star is one of the great things about sport.

“McGrath put his hand up in the West Indies in 1995. He’d debuted 18 months earlier but everyone thought he was too skinny and didn’t do much with the ball,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports.

“If Australia wins the Ashes this year it might not be on the back of Smith and Warner making 500 runs and Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins taking 25 wickets each.

“A new hero might stand up.”

Josh Hazlewood

Another former Australian captain, Ian Chappell, says the current injuries to Starc and Hazlewood highlight the need for selectors to think beyond the short term.

“While you’re always looking to pick sides to win the next game, you’ve got to look ahead and plan for the future as well,” Chappell told Wide World of Sports.

“In a period like this you definitely need a group of bowlers to share the load.

“But bear in mind these current injuries might be a blessing.

“Starc and Hazlewood are getting a rest now, it might just freshen them up a bit ahead of the winter.”

Both Taylor and Chappell are in agreement that Jhye Richardson, who made his Test debut in the recently completed series against Sri Lanka, has the goods to succeed.

“Sooner or later someone may have to stand up and become a Test match bowler. That might be Richardson if the opportunity comes his way,” Taylor said.

“I like what he did in the Tests he played, admittedly against weaker opposition.

“You don’t need to have done an apprenticeship to become an Ashes winning bowler.”

Chappell also threw up one forgotten name that could play a key part in the series if the opportunity arises – James Pattinson.

James Pattinson

The Victorian quick played the last of his 17 Tests more than three years ago, and is on the comeback trail after spinal surgery forced him to miss the entire 2017-18 summer.

His four Sheffield Shield matches this summer have yielded just nine wickets, but Chappell says if the 28-year-old is at his best, he’s as good as anyone in Australia.

“If Pattinson is in form he’s just as good as the big three.

“It’s a bit of a question mark with him because he’s had so many injuries.

“But if he’s firing, you don’t lose anything at all with him in the team.”

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