From ‘soft’ to unstoppable: Inside Starc’s rise to cricket royalty… and the $10m sacrifice that sealed it

Mitchell Starc is close to becoming Australian cricket royalty. The paceman is expected to take 300 Test wickets at Gabba next week.

After a stellar performance in Adelaide against the West Indies, the 32-year-old will be the seventh Australian to reach the milestone. This cements his position as one of the modern greats of cricket.

Starc will likely leapfrog his former teammates, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson, on the all-time list next year. He only needs 18 wickets for the top five, and he maintains a better bowling average.

It’s possible that in eight months, only two pace bowlers from Australia will be able to surpass Starc on the wicket-takers list — Glenn McGrath and Dennis Lillee.


708 — Shane Warne

563 — Glenn McGrath

450 — Nathan Lyon

355 — Dennis Lillee

313 — Mitchell Johnson

310 — Brett Lee

296 — Mitchell Starc

Mitchell Starc from Australia. Photo by James Worsfold/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

This is a remarkable achievement for the New South Welshman, especially considering that he was once categorized as a white-ball specialist at the beginning of his career.

Starc participated in 14 Tests from 2011 to 2014. Starc was usually only able to slide in the starting XI during Johnson’s absence or Ryan Harris’s absence.

He scored 45 Test wickets in 36.22 over that time — respectable numbers, but not earth-shaking.

The 2014 Gabba Test against India saw Starc score figures of 0/83 during the first innings. Shane Warne, who died in 2014, made headlines by criticizing Starc’s body language.

His body language needs to be more difficult. He seems a little nonchalant. He said that he looked a bit tired on Channel 9 commentary.

“He looks a little soft.”

Starc’s career was interrupted by injuries. Starc was in danger of losing favor with national selectors until the 2015 World Cup.

Australia won the trophy with Starc as the Tournament’s top wicket-taker, scoring 22 scalps at 10.18.

Starc quickly filled the vacancy created by Harris’ retirement later that year.

Since then, he’s been a key stay in the Test team, joining Nathan Lyon, Josh Hazlewood, and Pat Cummins to create one of the most formidable attacking teams this century.

Warne called last summer for Starc’s removal from the starting XI in advance of the Gabba’s first Ashes Test.

He responded by knocking out England opener Rory Burns in the first delivery. He finished as the second-highest wicket-taker with 19 breakthroughs.

Starc shows no signs of slowing down. Recently, Starc indicated that Test cricket would always be the priority. If forced to give up one format, white-ball cricket will be the first to go.

It has been widely praised that he chose to skip the Indian Premier League repeatedly, which allows him to save energy and concentrate on international commitments.

Starc is estimated to have lost $10 million by not attending the seven previous editions of the lucrative T20 Tournament.

Mitchell Starc during the 2014 Gabba test. Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

He said to reporters last month, “Tests always take precedence.”

“Tests far beyond white-ball. I’ll make the final decision as I go along with my body and how it feels about it.

“I would love to, selections and forms pending, continue playing Test cricket for as long as possible.”

Starc’s ability to use swing bowling with great success over the last seven years is unmatched in long-format cricket. He can run through the tail using a second ball and has been a consistent winner.

He has been great with the red ball. He’s unstoppable with the pink ball.

He has taken 61 wickets in day-night tests at 18.16 — no one else has more than 38.

“The way Mitchell Starc bowls at the moment is world-class, and that is what I admire about him. He is an elite athlete. Justin Langer, an ex-Australian coach, called him “an elite professional.”

Mitchell Starc has been criticized for his bowling technique and body language.

He might not smile often, he is a warrior on the field, but he is one of the most pleasant people you will ever meet.

He also loves Test cricket. One example is his decision not to go to the IPL as he wants to ensure that he is fit enough to play Test cricket for Australia.

“I admire that. Everyone who takes control of their own career is someone I admire.

He has done it. He’s a ripper.”

Mitchell Starc from Australia. Cameron Spencer/Getty ImagesSource: Getty Images

Over the next eight months, Mitchell Starc faces three major challenges. The first is Australia’s Test tour to India.

Although he had been to India twice, the left arm was not able to perform well on the sub-continent wickets. In four Tests, he took seven wickets at 50.14.

Starc will work hard to correct these numbers and help India reclaim the Border-Gavaskar Trophy. This is a feat Australia has not been able to achieve in India since 2004.

Next, Australia will be participating in the World Test Championship Final at Lord’s.

Starc has a World Cup and T20 World Cup medal winner’s medal in his trophy case, so he could be one of the first to win all three tournaments next year.

Finally, the Ashes.

Starc was not available for four Ashes Tests in 2019, as national selectors prioritized Siddle’s consistency and nibble.

Scott Boland, Michael Neser, and Michael Neser will undoubtedly be a threat at the Dukes ball as also, but Starc will be eager to use his magic in English conditions.

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Read also: From ‘soft’ to unstoppable: Inside Starc’s rise to cricket royalty… and the $10m sacrifice that sealed it

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