29/02/2024

Australian star pace bowler Mitchell Starc (Image: Izhar Khan)

Mitchell Starc has had his fair share of critics throughout 2021, but finding comfort in his run-up was all he needed to become the Allan Border medallist.

Sometime over the last 12 months, you would have probably read, heard, or even discussed at some length the bowling abilities of Mitchell Starc.

Throughout and after the conclusion of the men’s 2020-21 test series against India, Mitchell Starc found himself in the firing line of armchair critics through Australia and the rest of the world.

The Border-Gavaskar series was one of Starc’s worst statistically. In four matches Starc took just 11 wickets, his equal worst in a Test series where he played at least three matches.

As a result, Starc’s bowling average took a massive hit, with 40.72 runs per wicket enough to be his worst output in any test series where he’s played three or more matches.

Apart from a three-match ODI series on Australia’s tour of West Indies where he was named man of the series, Starc struggled to find any momentum in the T20 matches leading up and throughout the triumphant World Cup campaign.

Similar to the way Steve Smith once describes a bad run of form as a result of him ‘losing his hands’, Starc may have suffered the bowling equivalent by ‘losing his feet’.

Self-admittedly, Starc couldn’t find comfort or rhythm in his run-up and it became something of a crisis in terms of trying to rediscover them.

“I got out of quarantine, and each week went past, ‘I’ll find it next, (a week passes) I’ll find it next week’, and then it got to the World Cup and I had a few days and I went ‘I’ll find it and we’ll be alright, and I couldn’t find it,” Starc told media after being announced as the 2022 Alan Border Medalist on Saturday.

“We had a four-day break after the England game where we had a couple of training sessions.

“Throughout the net session I worked with Andrew (McDonald) to find something that I was comfortable with, to attack the crease, and not have to think so much about the run-up and just think about where I wanted to bowl the ball, that’s all I wanted to do,” he said.

“It probably got better towards the back end of the World Cup, and it probably wasn’t until the first or second (training) session in that quarantine, post World Cup when we were at the Gold Coast before the Ashes.

“It felt better, it felt smoother, it felt natural, and then we had a couple of sessions out in the middle at Metricon (Stadium), when the weather was good, it felt good to go.

“Then we had one session at Ian Healy Oval where it felt like it just clicked, the speed was up, I didn’t have to think about where my feet were, I just worried about what I wanted to bowl.”

His timing was perfect. Helping him deliver that ball to Rory Burns to turbocharge a successful Ashes campaign and summer.

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We saw a completely different Mitchell Starc this summer, the fast bowler regained his comfort and was able to damage opposition batters with greater.

Starc took 19 wickets throughout the Ashes, the second highest of any bowler, and his bowling average of 25.36 shows he as confident as ever with the ball in hand.

“I think that’s just part of the parcel with the times we’re in, there’s going to be times where you need to adapt, and in that case, it was me trying to adapt to a run-up that I’d somehow forgotten how to do,

“It was nice that it came prior to the Ashes, we can laugh about it now but I’m glad we got there.”

As result of his ability to adapt and regain confidence, Starc took out Australian cricket’s top gong, winning the Allan Border Medal as well as One-Day International player of the year.

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