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Will Mitch replace Mitch, or is there another leftie waiting to swoop?

Mitchell Starc has broken the 160kmh mark. (AAP Image/Tony McDonough)
Roar Guru
23rd December, 2014
10

The Australian pace attack has evolved this summer, with New South Welshman Josh Hazlewood zooming past veteran Peter Siddle, and it poses the question of who is going to take on the role of our most important paceman?

Mitchell Johnson is now 33 years old, and he is lucky to still be going around with all of the injuries that normally strike down express pace bowlers.

Brett Lee’s last Test match was when he was aged 32, Jason Gillespie was 31 and Craig McDermott was 30. The only exception is Glenn McGrath, who was 36. But that’s McGrath.

Comparing Mitch’s age to the other great fast bowlers that we have had, his time must surely be coming to a close soon. That means that a left-arm pace bowler has to be in the wings waiting.

Who is the ideal replacement for the huge moustached intimidator? I’ll look at a few youngsters vying for the role.

Mitchell Starc
Why: Starc has surely got to be the obvious choice; he has played 14 Test matches and is a lock in for limited-overs teams when fit. His damaging yorkers and ability to reverse swing the ball make him a challenge to face. He has the jump on the other candidates because of his Test match experience, and he has removed some of the best batsmen in Test cricket, as his five-wicket haul against Sri Lanka in 2012 shows.

Why not: He is about to be dropped for the tenth time, for Ryan Harris in the upcoming Boxing Day Test. In Brisbane, he was extremely erratic, with his dangerous and brilliant balls being intermitted with loose, horrible ones. He is injury prone and doesn’t have the presence that most good pace bowlers have.

Jason Behrendorff
Why: His great pace and swing can be extremely hostile, especially when his height creates steepling bounce. His outings in the Big Bash League show just how brilliant he is, with spectacular short-form bowling. Behrendorff never stops pushing the ball across right handers and making it awkward for them. He is economical and a wicket taker.

Why not: Hasn’t proven himself in first-class level. He hasn’t played for Australia in any format (although that may change soon) and he hasn’t dominated with the red ball. He has played majority of his cricket at the WACA, where the pace and bounce can be friendly for tall pace bowlers.

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Joel Paris
Why: Paris is another great Western Australian pace bowler. He is the youngest of the candidates (22 years of age) and has played some Sheffield Shield cricket. He is just like Behrendorff in the way that he constantly pushes the ball across the right handers, and his bounce and swing are quality for a youngster.

Why not: Paris has not played much cricket this year due to injury. He has played a lot of limited overs cricket, but hasn’t completely established himself in the WA line-up. He is young and inexperienced, and he also has the problem of playing most of his cricket at the WACA – he hasn’t constantly had to endure batsman-friendly pitches.

My prediction
Starc looks the most likely once he finds consistency, but if Behrendorff can bowl with the red ball like he does with the white, then he will be the more consistent wicket-taker of the three.

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