Starc is key to Australia’s balance as a big pick

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‘You are beautiful’: Inside Australian rooms after WTC victory

Australia say they are not indifferent to Mitchell Starc’s expensive bowling in the World Test final, adamant his wicket-taking ability is vital to their balance.

The selectors will make one of the toughest calls in years when new Josh Hazlewood is fit to play this week when he picks the attack for Friday’s first Ashes Test.

Australia will look to beat India by 209 runs in the World Test Championship on Monday.

Unless all of them are injured as expected, Scott Boland, Mitchell Starc and Hazlewood will be squeezed into two places by automatic selection with captain Pat Cummins.

Boland was never picked in a full-strength Australian attack when the entire pace cartel was available, but he played in the WTC final and now has 33 Test wickets at 14.57.

Boland celebrates in the rooms with Alex Carey and Travis Head after the WTC final // ICC via Getty
Boland celebrates in the rooms with Alex Carey and Travis Head after the WTC final // ICC via Getty

There is a feeling that former coach Justin Langer and former captain Ricky Ponting could be the man left at Edgbaston in the final days.

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Another factor is Starc’s return against India, with England expected to target the left arm with their aggressive batting.

The 34-year-old had the most expensive innings of his career at The Oval, clocking 5.34 runs.

Starc claims the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane in the second innings // Getty
Starc claims the wicket of Ajinkya Rahane in the second innings // Getty

But he also claimed the key wicket of Virat Kohli in the first innings with a lifted short ball and took 2-77 in the second, including 46 off India’s top scorer of the match Ajinkya Rahane.

“There’s always balance in attack,” Australia coach Andrew MacDonald said.

“Most of our bowlers have been above average and we just have to know that the pace will be a little bit different.

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“We’re usually a two-run fastball team, where we can go four.

“Mitch went above and beyond and (what) he usually goes, but they complement each other really well.

“His ability to take wickets is second to none. We have to weigh all of this when making a decision.”

McDonald also confirmed that Starc was left unopened in the second innings as Australia believed Duke’s batting was the first change with the left-hander after a couple of balls.

Off the bowling, Australia will like him roughing up Nathan Lyon to bowl and offer batting depth at No.8.

Cummins also moved to defend Starc’s pre-Ashes form after Sunday’s win.

“He played a role for us that Starsy could do after 80 Test matches,” Cummins said.

“He has a big tour coming up and will play a big role for us.

“The English side is a little different. There are a few more lefties.

“I’m very happy with where Starsy is.”

2023 Qantas Ashes Tour UK

First test: Friday 16 June – Tuesday 20 June, Edgbaston

Second test: Wednesday 28 June – Sunday 2 July, Lord’s

Third test: Thursday 6th July – Monday 10th July, Headingley

Fourth test: Wednesday July 19 – Sunday July 23, Old Trafford

The fifth test: Thursday July 27-Monday 31, Oval

Australian team: Pat Cummins (c), Scott Boland, Alex Carey (wk), Cameron Green, Marcus Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Travis Head, Josh Inglis (wk), Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Todd Murphy, Matthew Renshaw , Steve Smith (vc), Mitchell Starc, David Warner

England team: Ben Stokes (c), James Anderson, Jonathan Bairstow, Stuart Broad, Harry Brook, Zac Crowley, Ben Duckett, Dan Lawrence, Jack Leach, Ollie Pope, Matthew Potts, Ollie Robinson, Joe Root, Josh Tongue, Chris Woakes, Mark Wood

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