Could Starc Be Australia's Ironman In India?

Ironman Starc*
                         * (image has been altered i.e. Starc is not actually Ironman)
Not since a country kid from Narromine nicknamed pigeon answered the call for wickets during the then fiery furnace known as the 1994 West Indies cricket tour have Australia needed a bowling superhero to step forward and make the world take notice.

Could Mitchell Starc be that hero?

While you must win with spin if India is to be conquered, pace is not without its place.

In 2004 an Australian team that included Shane Warne, the spin king on a baked beans and vegemite toast diet, still had to rely on their pace brigade to stifle the locals and win a series in India for only the second time in 30 years.

Sure, that team included Jason Gillespie and the aforementioned Glenn McGrath, a duo considered the best Australian pace combination since Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson.

For better or worse, Australia’s bowling strength still lies in our pace attack.

And this is where the early damage can be done to a potentially dangerous though brittle looking Indian batting card.

And like his superhero namesake in Tony Stark, Mitchell may need to become the Ironman wicket taker of this tour.

Starc is coming off the kind of summer that pop songs are written about. It was a glaringly rose coloured, heady season where success came in all forms of the game.

The Beach Boys could not have penned a more pure summer of enjoyment.

But if Australia represents a Beach Boys sweet summer paradise for pace men, India is the atonal dark and dingy Jazz club opposite.

India in India is an entirely different, much more difficult and much less harmonious and melodic task.

The wickets will no doubt be slowed to a pace more akin to bowling on sand and the flat, low Indian conditions are as heartbreaking to quick bowlers as a flat ocean is for surfers.

Indeed India will challenge Starc and his fellow pace exponents who all, like Will Ferrel in Talladega Nights, ‘just want to go fast’.

But Michael Clarke and his fellow selectors should place Starc at the vanguard of this challenge.

Australia will need the bulk of overs and a more than fair share of wickets rotated through Xavier Doherty, Nathan Lyon and Glenn Maxwell or Steve Smith.

Though Australia still need an effective initial attack that could hopefully make early inroads into a batting line-up that has recently done its best Violet Crumble impersonations when faced with the Aussie quicks.

It’s the way bowlers shatter batsmen that matters and Starc as the Australian Ironman should be given a chance at the first hammer blow.

The flat decks of the sub continent will not let balls out of their dusty grasp without back breaking effort, but Starc’s natural combination of height and pace should still have an early effect and rattle many top order bats.

And as Ian Chappell has pointed out, Starc’s natural movement into right-handed batsmen will trouble the likes of the erratically brilliant Virender Sehwag and the rising Virat Kohli. These are two players that Australia need to keep in check if they are to keep India’s totals from resembling Sydney housing prices.

But Australia also needs a pure wicket taker, and at the moment Starc is possibly the most dangerous one they have.

A lot will depend on the ability of Starc to get the voodoo-esque mystery of reverse swing happening in his favour, not to mention the small matter of being selected in this bowler rotating, trigger happy world we live.

But if he does get on the park, as I believe he should, he could be the one to call out the ‘win with spin’ truism as the lie Australia need it to be.

This current series in India looms as a challenging litmus test for Mitchell Starc. And if successful it could define the career trajectory of one of Australia’s most exciting pace prospects.

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