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One ball better than two: Starc wants controversial rule changed - ‘it’s a batter’s game, bowlers just have to hold on’

13th November, 2023
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13th November, 2023
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One-day cricket is too skewed towards the batters in Mitchell Starc’s view and the best way to bring bowlers back into the contest would be to revert to one ball for the 50 overs. 

Starc stressed he wasn’t trying to put up a sob story but he thinks ODIs would be better and less lopsided in favour of the batters if the fielding side didn’t have to use two balls in alternating overs. 

Reverse swing is harder to come by, the batters benefit from each ball staying harder for longer and there is little swing in the first few overs anyway, even with alternating white balls. 

Starc has been well below his best at the World Cup and while he admitted his performances have not been up to his usual standard, he said most bowlers at the tournament have been up against it due to the two-ball system being in operation.

After being rested despite his protestations to team management, he will return to the Australian XI at the expense of Sean Abbott for Thursday’s semi-final against South Africa at Kolkata.

“The new ball with two balls that’s sometimes been the hardest time to bowl,” he said. 

“That’s not a sob story, that’s the nature of one-day cricket when you’ve got two brand new balls on flat wickets, that’s the nature of this World Cup. If you look at the runs scored, certainly the centuries scored as opposed to five wickets taken, the ratio is heavily skewed. 

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“Bowlers just have to find a way to get used to it. I still think it should be one ball, not two. The ball stays harder for longer.

“They certainly swing at the start then unless conditions suit, they don’t swing for very long. If anything they say nicer for batters towards the end. 

“As we’ve seen here the grounds are quite small, the wickets are flat and if you look at some of that old footage, reverse swing comes into it a lot more and that actually brings the bowlers back into the game.

“I don’t think there’s any secret that one-day and T20 cricket is a batter’s game and bowlers just have to hang on.”

Starc added that it’s not impossible to gain reverse swing but it’s harder to achieve.

It used to be part of a fast bowler’s armoury in the final overs, particularly for a swing bowler like Starc who tries to pitch the ball full to get past the bat with yorkers. 

Starc has gone for 6.55 and over in his eight matches and although he’s taken 10 wickets, they’ve come at an average of 43.9 as batters have swung freely at his often wayward offerings. 

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“If you look purely at numbers, there’s been a lot of guys across a lot of teams who probably do not have the same numbers as they would have liked,” he said. 

“Some of the grants we’ve played at, the wickets have certainly been two very different wickets through the day and through the night. 

“It’s certainly been more beneficial to swing the ball and hit the ball in the second innings when the sun’s gone down and the wicket’s been under lights. Pat (Cummins) has been on the wrong end of of a few tosses as well so I think there’s a lot of contributing factors.

“Speed is not the be-all and end-all over here in India as well. How you go about it tactically and whether it’s variations or what time you bowl through a game or whether you win or lose the toss, I think a lot of things contribute to that and I certainly haven’t been probably at the level that I would have liked.

“I take some (of the blame) on myself there that I haven’t been up to the level as the past two World Cups anyway. So now it’s our chance at the pointy end to be as impactful again.”

While it sounds like he’s presenting a case to the selectors on why he shouldn’t be picked in the team in the future, Starc said he would not be retiring from the ODI arena anytime soon even though he conceded he had given thought to scaling back his status as a three-format player.

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The 33-year-old, who intends to nominate for the IPL auction next year for the first time in a decade, said he would give up the white-ball formats before he considers ending his Test career. 

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