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Mitch Starc may retire as Australia's greatest ever ODI bowler

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Expert
1st July, 2019
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Mitchell Starc is building a body of work that may soon see him as Australia’s best one-day bowler of all-time.

He is also on a trajectory that will see him mentioned in the same breath as the best from any nation.

His form at this World Cup has him in the frame for Player of the Tournament honours.

With a last preliminary game against South Africa, a guaranteed semi-final appearance and the possibility of a final, he will surely rewrite the World Cup record books.

This, on the back of being awarded Player of the Tournament four years ago.

Mitchell Starc bowling

How do Australia knock off England? (Photo by Action Foto Sport/NurPhoto)

In the 2015 addition, jointly held in Australia and New Zealand, Starc cut a swathe through the opposition to finish with 22 wickets at 10.2, tying him at the top of the wicket aggregate with Kiwi Trent Boult.

His stunning 6-28 in Auckland against the Black Caps was the highlight with the hosts nine down when they reached the victory target of just 152.

His 2-20 off eight overs against the same opponent in the final at the MCG concluded an outstanding tournament.

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Move forward four years and it is a case of Groundhog Day.

Starc currently heads up the wicket aggregate with 24 scalps at 15.5 through eight games.

Next best is Kiwi quick, Lockie Ferguson who has produced 17 wickets in his seven matches.
Starc has claimed a wicket every 18 deliveries.

Two more victims will see him equal Glenn McGrath’s 2007 record of 26 wickets at a single World Cup, which he achieved in a dozen matches.

No player has ever topped the wicket aggregate at a World Cup twice.

At this stage, Starc appears odds-on to achieve that feat.

He has already claimed two five-wicket hauls this time around – against West Indies and New Zealand – to make him the first man to register three five-fors in World Cups.

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For good measure, he also has three four-wicket hauls to his credit.

Thus far, across two outings in the sport’s premier white ball tournament he has 46 wickets at the phenomenal average of 13.0 and with a strike rate of just 18 – all from just 16 matches.

That places him sixth all-time on the wicket-taking list.

McGrath is at the top of the tree with 71 wickets from 39 appearances.

If Starc maintains his current strike rate for the remainder of this tournament, and at 29 years of age, he will be well positioned to surpass McGrath’s record with another solid performance in India in 2023.

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While Starc was rightly ranked number one in the world around the period of the last World Cup heading into this year’s addition he looked well short of those lofty heights.

Injuries restricted him to just seven appearances in 2018 during which he claimed 11 wickets at 37.4 on the back of a strike rate of 36.5.

Starc celebrates a wicket

Australia’s Mitchell Starc. (AP Photo/Eranga Jayawardena)

The lethal swing – at both ends of the innings – which had been the hallmark to his success was absent.

He started this year with three matches at home against South Africa in which he claimed just four wickets at 38.8.

In essence, few could have foreseen the destruction he has wreaked during this tournament.

The swing is back and allied to his famed yorker he has quite literally proved unplayable at times.

England’s Ben Stokes can certainly lay testament to that having been shot out by one of the deliveries of the tournament at Lord’s.

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It has not been just his yorker that has had batsmen on the hop.

His high octane short deliveries have the venom of old.

England skipper, Eoin Morgan was clearly unsettled by Starc’s well focused bouncers.

At his best, Starc is Australia’s talisman.

When on-song his bowling makes him a one-man weapon of mass destruction.

His value at this tournament to skipper, Aaron Finch is best summed up by looking at the spread of his wickets throughout the matches played to date.

Of his 24 wickets, he has dismissed the openers five times, numbers eight to ten in the order three times each and numbers three to seven twice each.

Whether it has been his opening or closing spells, or those wedged in the middle, he has provided Finch with regular breakthroughs.

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It is a luxury that few captains have possessed.

Starc has played 83 games although it feels he has donned the coloured uniform far more often which is testament to his destructive nature.

mitchell-starc-australia-cricket-odi-2017

The Australian cricket team. (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

His career record stacks up well when compared with the all-time great one-day exponents.

To date, he has captured 169 wickets at 20.6 with a strike rate of 24.8.

McGrath is the most prolific Australian, having taken 380 wickets at 22.0

His strike rate however is 34.0.

Brett Lee is second on the list with 380 wickets at 23.4 and a strike rate of 29.4.

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Lee has also claimed the most five-wicket hauls by an Australian – nine in 221 matches.

McGrath and Starc are equal second with seven.

McGrath achieved his across 249 games while Starc has done so in a mere 83.

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Globally, of the 74 bowlers to have claimed 150 or more wickets Starc has both the best average and strike rate.

Whilst others can claim greater longevity, Starc is well on the way to sitting alongside the very cream of the crop in the coming years.

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In fact, he deserves to be in the discussion now.