Did Starc’s rest backfire on Australia?
Mitchell Starc was told to sit out the Boxing Day Test. He was replaced by the two men who spearheaded Australia to victory in Melbourne.
Jackson Bird and Mitchell Johnson were called into the line-up after Ben Hilfenhaus succumbed to a side strain while Starc fell victim to Australia’s rotation policy.
Both men took their opportunities as they tore through the Sri Lankans, bowling out the tourists for 156.
Johnson was the hero taking 4-63 while Jackson Bird snared two early wickets on debut.
Mitchell Johnson followed up his bowling display with an impressive 92* with the bat.
Johnson’s performances with bat and ball make him a very strong contender for Man Of The Match; a title that cannot warrant an axing.
Jackson Bird is the most likely to miss out given his lack of experience and Mitchell Starc’s five-wicket haul in Hobart.
Australia’s dominance in Melbourne caused more headaches than healing for the selectors as competition for spots intensifies.
The rotation policy has been heavily scrutinised during the week after Starc was very vocal about his omission.
Mitchell Starc was said to be nursing niggling injuries but presented a golden opportunity to move up the line for selection.
Cricket Australia and captain Michael Clarke have defended the rotation policy, as they believe it is a tool to prevent overuse injuries.
But since the start of the Australian summer, James Pattinson, John Hastings, Josh Hazelwood and Ben Hilfenhaus have been struck down with injury.
Ryan Harris and Pat Cummins are still on the sidelines from the middle of the year recovering from extended injuries.
Australia’s bowling stocks have bolstered ever since James Pattinson’s arrival against New Zealand last summer.
Every player who has come in has put pressure on the person they have replaced.
The precautionary measure is not being used to its full potential given Australia’s long injury list.
But if it is not broken, why fix it?
Australian Bowlers Mitchell Starc and Mitchell Johnson have both said the best eleven players should be picked to play.
Mitchell Starc plays all three forms of cricket for Australia- a very heavy workload for a 22-year old.
Form should not be a factor in Starc’s return given for Sydney given he has missed only one Test match.
Johnson will be riding off the momentum of his performance at the MCG as he Starc battle to be Australia’s left-armer when Pattinson returns.
Jackson Bird will be added to the long line of the bowlers vying for an Ashes spot in July.
The rotation policy has the potential to derail the Australian pace line-up as they try and settle on four quicks and a spinner.
There is just one bowler who has played every test this summer: Nathan Lyon.
And with only the Sydney test this summer and the English wickets in winter; it will be hard to rest him anytime soon.