Shane Warne has become an intriguing figure within the Channel Nine commentary box over the past few summers.
Occasionally giving amazing insight into how he would set fields and what bowling plans he would use is a wonderful highlight into the mind of a top class cricketer.
It is certainly welcome relief between the Mark Nicholas over-hype every deliver commentary and the lowbrow James Brayshaw style which everyone around the country seems to mute whenever he appears on the screen.
I found it interesting then that the great leggie received such a backlash when he described Mitchell Starc as soft following his underwhelming return to Test cricket on Day 1 of the second Test.
While Warne often dumbs down his commentary (likely at the request of Channel Nine) I appear to be in the minority that actually agree with what he was saying.
While all the bowlers struggled with the conditions they at least attempted to push through the pain barrier and dug in for the fight against a tough Indian top order on a typical Brisbane deck.
Warne raised some very interesting points about how fast bowling can be about bravado and the mental edge you can get on a batsman by appearing to steam in, sticking your chest out and showing a bit of fight. While Starc’s girlfriend took to Twitter and coach Darren Lehmann used his media conference to defend the lanky left arm quick, the truth of the matter is that after his first spell he completely wilted in the sun.
The question was then raised as it has been for much of Starc’s stop start Test career as to whether he actually has a plan B if the ball stops swinging.
His Test record is more flattering than it should be and his regular innings pattern follows a consistent path. Starc will swing the ball early but if he doesn’t pick up a wicket he rarely ties the batsman down, and then goes long periods in the middle of the innings posing little threat before coming back (often with the second new ball) to skittle the tail.
Often Starc will return figures which on paper look alright but rarely has he claimed any significant top order scalps.
While still a developing bowler it must be a concern that Starc poses such little threat to batsmen between the overs of 20 to 70. On a day where another Marsh almost expectedly went down with an injury Starc needed to do just as Warne said, to stand tall and bend his back to at the very least keep the runs down.
The scorching heat didn’t seem to bother Murali Vijay a great deal as he sweated it out in the middle for hours in a terrific show of concentration and will to succeed.
I found it interesting and a stark contrast that on a day where Starc struggled, people were in the media discussing whether Peter Siddle, someone known for his ability to dig deep, was finished as a Test cricketer.
People seem to forget that just two years ago against South Africa at the Adelaide Oval he bowled a remarkable 33 overs in the final innings when conditions were stiflingly hot. It was an incredibly lion hearted performance where Siddle carried the bowling attack, often willing himself up to the 140-kilometre mark despite suffering from exhaustion.
Day 1 in Brisbane highlighted the fact that while being able to bowl at over 140 kilometres an hour was important there is more to fast bowling than just speed. Just ask the likes of Brett Lee and Shaun Tait who regularly clocked the 150-kilometre mark and yet couldn’t land the ball in the same spot twice.
With a long winter in England to follow, getting a fast bowling pair who complement one another and bowl in partnerships is critical if the Ashes are to be retained. Starc needs to learn that when the ball isn’t swinging containment can be just as important as outright pace and that bowling through any pain when things aren’t going his way is critical to the team’s success.
Likewise, those that have already written off Peter Siddle appear to have very short memories and I have little doubt he will be back, pass his 200 Test wickets milestone and be a key factor in Australia’s tilt to reclaim the Ashes.