Australian cricket great Adam Gilchrist has questioned whether there are “trust issues” between Test captain Tim Paine and paceman Mitchell Starc.
With the left-arm spearhead used mostly in short spells during the ongoing series against India, Gilchrist pondered whether Paine had lost some faith in Starc.
“There’s just something about Mitch – and again, we’re speculating – something hasn’t looked quite right,” Gilchrist told Fox Cricket on day four of the final Test in Brisbane.
“That to me has been confirmed in the fact Tim Paine has given him the new ball, but so many spells have just been really short spells, like three overs.
“I know that your impact bowlers are meant to come in and have a little burst but there just doesn’t seem to have been the trust that Mitchell Starc’s going to do the job that Tim Paine’s wanted.
“Whether that’s an issue with Mitchell Starc or whether it’s just the uncertainty from the captain but even this Test match, even [Monday evening] in one over that he had, he was scuffing at the foot mark, he was changing his boots.
“He hasn’t been able to really get into that full rhythm and be so damaging that has given him his reputation leading into this series.”
Although lethal at his best, Starc hasn’t been an untouchable figure under Paine’s captaincy. He played just a single Test in the 2019 Ashes series, after a World Cup campaign in which he was the tournament’s leading bowler.
Starc has 11 wickets at 34.27 in the ongoing series against India, against a career of 255 wickets at 27.29. Former Australian captain Mark Taylor noted that he didn’t do his job – breaking through for vital wickets – on the final day as India somehow managed to draw the third Test in Sydney.
Starc will get another chance on the final day of the fourth Test, with Australia needing to skittle India to win the Border-Gavaskar Trophy; though how much Paine will use him remains to be seen. He took 2-88 in the first innings at the Gabba, including the wicket of Indian captain Ajinkya Rahane, and bowled only slightly fewer overs in total than fellow pacemen Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.
Starc clutched at his right hamstring during his only over of the second innings on day four, before rain stopped play. He confirmed to Fox Cricket on Tuesday that he was carrying a niggle.
“One thing I know about Mitchell is he’s tough and he’s played through some injuries before and got the job done, so he’ll be hopefully good to go,” Steve Smith said.
Long-time critic Shane Warne said that Starc had not enhanced his reputation in the India series.
“No for me. It’s looked like there’s been something wrong,” Warne said on Fox Cricket.
“I don’t know what it is, whether it’s his rhythm or he’s got a little niggle, but there seems to be always something wrong. He’s taking his wickets at a high average.
“Tim Paine hasn’t really gone to him much when they need (a wicket). It’s been Cummins, Hazelwood or Lyon and if none of them got it, it seems to be Starc – and normally he’s pretty competent, Starc.”
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