Mitchell Starc's actions before Australia's clash with Bangladesh at the Cricket World Cup on Saturday raised some eyebrows, after he decided to don the wicket-keeper gloves in the warm-up. Starc was rested for the final game before the semi-finals after playing in all eight of Australia's previous games in the tournament.
Glenn Maxwell, who was still battling the effects of his incredible double century against Afghanistan, was also put on ice, as Australia recorded their seventh-straight win to head into the semis on a high. But the pre-game actions of Starc didn't sit well with commentators, who couldn't believe their eyes when they saw him with the gloves on and taking deliveries from Australia's bowlers.
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As New Zealander Simon Doull pointed out, Starc was taking a big risk before the semis by putting himself in danger of getting injured. “I know he’s probably getting keeping lessons at home from (wife) Alyssa Healy,” Doull said. “He was actually wicket-keeping this morning to the quick bowlers, and I thought, ‘That is fraught with danger’.
“You’ve got a couple of games left in the World Cup, and you’ve got the gloves on wicketkeeping to the quicks. If you get one on the finger, I just didn’t think that was overly smart.”
It's all in the family! Mitchell Starc with wicketkeeping gloves on this morning ❤️ Making up for the time Alyssa Healy is losing while on the mend from surgery. #WorldCup2023 video: ICC pic.twitter.com/AKIOWEf1oK
— Lavanya 🎙️🎥👩🏻💻 (@lav_narayanan) November 11, 2023
Starc was a wicket-keeper in his junior days, and wife Healy is Australia's premier keeper in women's cricket. But Aussie legend Matthew Hayden also wasn't particularly impressed by Starc donning the gloves on Saturday.
“Not that I watch your forehead closely, but I saw it crinkle up, with one eyebrow raised," Hayden told Doull. “You’re having the day off, the last thing you want to do is break a finger.”
Hayden pointed out that Starc hasn't exactly been at his best throughout the World Cup. The left-armer has 10 wickets in eight matches at an average of 43.90, going for 6.55 runs per over.
“He hasn’t really made any impact,” Hayden said. “He just hasn’t quite been on song.”
Aussies head into semi-finals on seven-game win streak
The Aussies will take on South Africa in the second semi-final on Thursday, with India battling New Zealand in the other semi on Wednesday. Pakistan still had a faint chance of making the semis on Saturday night, but were thrashed by England to end their campaign.
Australia have won seven games on the trot after losing their first two against India and South Africa. They will take on the Proteas full of confidence now that the likes of Marsh and Maxwell are in red-hot form.
Marsh's knock of 177 not out came off 132 balls, and featured nine sixes and 17 fours. It marked a staggering return to form for the all-rounder, who struggled since moving down to No.3 to accommodate Travis Head's return at the top.
Marsh had returned scores of nine, 36 and 24 since Head's return from injury, but bounced back in a big way on Saturday. He scored 26 runs from boundaries in his first 11 balls, before reaching 50 in 37 deliveries and a century in 87.
"That is the way we want to play our cricket - me coming in at No.3 and applying pressure," Marsh said. "I knew when Heady came back (from injury) I was going to go down to No.3, so the most important thing was to play with that same intent and back myself. We probably had a few games where I lost my intent. So it was really good to learn quickly and back myself."
Marsh's knock helped Australia chase down Bangladesh's total of 8-306 with 32 balls remaining and eight wickets in hand. It marked Australia's highest successful run chase in World Cup history.
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