Mitchell Starc no longer a certainty for Ashes: Mark Taylor
Mitchell Starc (AFP Image)

Former captain Mark Taylor is doubtful about Mitchell Starc’s place in Australia’s Playing XI for The Ashes which begins shortly after the World Cup. The left-arm pacer’s lean form in Test cricket makes Taylor wonder if Starc still possess credentials of being an automatic pick considering the emergence of young Jhye Richardson.

Starc comprises of Australia’s big three – Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood being the other two. And while Hazlewood and Cummins have done enough with their performance to get Taylor’s backing, Starc seems to have struggled.

“Australia’s Big Three fast bowlers is on the verge of becoming a Big Two. Mitchell Starc’s membership is in danger of being revoked. This has not been a great summer for the big quick which is why it’s so important he gets something out of the final Test of the season,” Taylor wrote in a column for Fairfax.

Since making his comeback during Australia’s two-Test tour of the UAE last year, Starc has been a bit off. He bagged four wickets at an average of 25, followed by 13 scalps in four Tests against India. But more importantly, it’s the lacking aggression which worries Taylor.

“Starcy’s numbers – 15 wickets at 36 – are not awful but they do not show how inconsistent he has been. His pace is still up but control is an ongoing issue. There were spells in Brisbane where he bowled on both sides of the pitch, just as he did at a crucial stage in Adelaide,” added the former Australia captain.

“I no longer have him as a certainty for the Ashes, but as a probable. My issue with him in England is his inability to maintain pressure. He took a bag of six and five in 2015 but he leaked four to five runs an over in those innings and Australia lost comfortably. His higher run rate places extra pressure on the other two quicks to keep it tight.

“His advantage is that as a left-armer he gives the attack a point of difference but some of Australia’s express-pace quicks of the past, like Jeff Thomson, Brett Lee and Jason Gillespie, had higher averages in England compared to the rest of their career. Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood, if fit, will go. It’s hard to leave out Jhye Richardson, who can bowl fast outswing.”

Taylor envisions Australia playing four fast bowlers in England to make the most of the conditions there, and in such a scenario, Starc, on current form, faces stiff competition.

“I have Starcy in a battle with Peter Siddle, Dan Worrall, Chadd Sayers, Chris Tremain and Trent Copeland for the two remaining fast-bowling berths,” Taylor said. “There’s a spot for Starc because he can be a match-winner but it’s time he became one again. The last spot should go to the bowler who can swing the ball the most.”