Australian skipper Tim Paine has worn the blame for Mitchell Starc’s poor showing on day five at the SCG as the Aussie bowling cartel struggled to close out the Sydney Test.
The left-arm quick has struggled with his economy and wickets across the series, tallying figures of 9-285 off 98 overs throughout the Test summer, going for nearly three runs per over in the context of a series that has featured low run rates throughout.
He took four of those nine wickets in the first Test in Adelaide. Since, then Starc has managed just 5-225 at three runs an over, requiring 41 overs to take the solitary wicket of tailender Navdeep Saini across five days in Sydney.
While the off-field narratives of crowd behavior stole headlines for much of the SCG Test, the trickle-down effect seeped its way onto the field in a fifth-day combustion from Paine behind the wickets.
His aggressive sledging of Ravichandran Ashwin and run-in with umpire Paul Wilson, both of which he has since apologised for, became the centrepiece of a war of attrition that saw Australia’s bowling cartel, particularly Starc, fail to topple India’s middle and lower order on the final day.
Speaking to media ahead of the decisive fourth Test at the Gabba, Paine said he shouldered the blame for Australia’s attack failing to find the breakthrough in Sydney, especially in relation to Starc. Paine said he failed his spearhead when he lost his head.
“We’ve tried to rejuvenate all our fast bowlers, and last week was a really big week for them, particularly day five,” Paine said.
“In terms of Starc, he’s just that type of bowler. Some days Starc looks like what he is, one of the great fast bowlers in the world, and the next day he has a bad day like the rest of us. We know how good he is and we know on his day he can rip a Test match apart, but that’s not going to happen for him every day.
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“For me, my role with Starcy, I was disappointed on day five. My role is to try and keep him nice and calm, keep him really clear on what I and we expect of him and he’s the type of bowler that if you give him really clear and simple instructions and keep him on an even keel, he normally bowls the house down.
“My mood around day five, potentially was one that affected him, and was a reason why he wasn’t at his best. So, it’s about me getting back to basics. Keeping him nice and relaxed, keeping him clear on what we want him to do. When we do that he more often than not delivers.”
Paine said he was eager to leave the aggression of the Sydney Test behind him and get back to the cricket that makes him happy on the field, and urged the Brisbane crowd planning on attending over the five days to do the same.
“In terms of crowd behavior, we don’t condone the abuse of anyone let alone from a racial standpoint,” Paine said. We want people to come along to Brisbane, support the cricket of both Australia and India, but my suggestion to you is that you leave the abuse at the gate and just respect the players. Respect the game.
“I’ll handle it differently. I let it get under my skin, no doubt about that. For me it’s about rising above it and concentrating on what I’m doing and leaning my team, not worrying about what’s going-on on the other side.
“If you look through my career I think I’ve done a pretty good job of staying relaxed for 99 percent of it. So it’s going back to how I play my best cricket.
“That’s having a smile on my face, it’s enjoying cricket for what it is, which is a game. The other day I thought I certainly got caught up in the moment, I think what I’ve been really good at is just stepping back and even looking out at the crowd sometimes and just realise that in that second of captaining and playing for your country in a Test match, it’s something I’ve always wanted to do.”