Ian Healy has turned the heat on Mitchell Starc amid the Aussie spearhead's concerning showing with the ball at the Cricket World Cup. Starc will be pivotal to Australia's hopes of beating South Africa on Thursday and advancing to the World Cup final, but the left-armer hasn't exactly been at his best in India.
The 33-year-old is one of the best white-ball bowlers in world cricket, but has struggled to take wickets with the new ball in the powerplay. Starc has only taken four wickets in the powerplay so far this tournament at an average of 34.75 (and 10 wickets overall at 43.90).
It has led Healy to question whether Starc is still the intimidating force he was. “If we haven’t got South Africa one or two wickets down in that powerplay, then it’ll be a big total to chase,” Healy said on SEN radio this week. “Is (Starc) still a potent force?
“He’s not been potent at all in this tournament. Ten wickets off eight games is not bad but where is he taking these wickets? He won’t be potent at all until he gets it right and zero in on the stumps much better than he has. Fire into those stumps and feet.”
Starc didn't play against Bangladesh in Australia's final pool game before the semis, and he made the startling declaration that he wasn't rested but left out of the team. According to Healy he was rested, saying: “He needs to be much, much better. That’s why they rested him. Just to try and fire him up. He is a long way off his previous (best).”
Healy's pointed comments are all the more remarkable considering Starc is married to his niece and fellow cricketer Alyssa Healy. That might make things a little awkward over Christmas lunch this year.
As Ricky Ponting pointed out in commentary during the Bangladesh match, the Aussies have only taken eight wickets in the powerplay so far this tournament - the third fewest among all 10 teams. “That’s got to be a worry for them,” he said. “It’s one thing I’ve been a little bit disappointed with.
“You look at the release of the Australian quicks, compared to the releases of the Indian quicks. (Mohammed) Siraj, (Jasprit) Bumrah and (Mohammed) Shami hit the seam, bowl upright, down the wicket, getting some shape and seam. The Australians haven’t been able to swing the new ball hardly at all right the way through this series, and for mine it’s all down to that release point.”
Mitchell Starc calls for rule change in one-day internationals
On Tuesday, Starc decried the fact that batters get an unfair advantage these days due to the fact that two new balls are used in one-day internationals. “I still think it should be one ball not two,” Starc told reporters. “The ball stays harder for longer. As we’ve seen here, the grounds are quite small, wickets are flat.
“If anything in world cricket wickets have gotten flatter and I think if you look at some of that old footage when they bowled with one ball, reverse swing comes into it a lot more that actually brings the bowlers back into the game. And I don’t think it’s any secret that one day cricket and probably T20 cricket as well is a batter’s game and bowlers just have to hang on.
“I think there’s a lot of contributing factors, speed’s not the be-all and end-all over here in India as well. So certainly 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 a toss.
"I think a lot of things contribute to that and certainly haven’t been probably at the level that I would have liked as well. So I certainly take some (responsibility) myself there that (I haven’t bowled) to the same level as the last two World Cups anyway, but now have chance at the pointy end to I guess impact again.”
Sign up to our newsletter and score the biggest sport stories of the week.