If you were to ask anyone who knows cricket who the pre-eminent white-ball bowler in the world is, ignoring a few Englishmen whos say it’s Jofra Archer, the vast majority would say Mitchell Starc.
Taking the record for most wickets at a World Cup ever and named in the team of the tournament, there is no denying his potency with the white ball.
But Starc’s form with the red ball has been patchy at best, which culminated in him not playing in the Ashes until the fourth Test. In a summer where Australia desperately needed Starc to dominate against India, he struggled against the Indian batsmen. In that series Mitch had a bowling average 34.53 and took only 13 wickets, which was the worst of any Australian.
In the last three years Starc has had a bowling average of 28.65, including a strike of 62.03 in 2018. In comparison Pat Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and James Pattinson averaged 22.63, 27.77 and 27.43 respectively.
In the age of fast bowler loading being a high priority, the world’s top white-ball bowler should be focussed on playing as much white-ball cricket for his nation as possible.
Starc has a one-day of average 20.99 and a Twent20 average of 18.41, which far outshines his Test average.
In an episode of The Bowlology Report podcast Damien Fleming said, “At any one time, 23.2 per cent of fast bowlers are injured.”
If Australia is beginning to seriously endeavour to win the T20 World Cup, they must manage the workload of bowlers, and the best bowlers should be playing every single game.
Starc is no longer the spearhead of Australias Test attack. Cummins is the No. 1 bowler in the world and the Test team has been craving the return of James Pattinson.
But Starc deserves the opportunity to hone his craft and become a stronger bowler, furthering his skills to become even better.
Australia does not lack potential bowlers to cover Pattinson, Cummins and Hazlewood, with many bowlers dominating the Sheffield shield season. Chadd Sayers took 13 wickets, while Jackson Bird has played multiple Tests and recently took a five-wicket haul against Western Australia.
Young fast bowlers, such as Riley Meredith, would thrive in the Test team along with players like Michael Neser.
Australia will not struggle without Mitchell Starc should he not play every white-ball game possible and allow himself to be best prepared for the World Cup.