Mitchell Starc has the talent to take 300 Test wickets, but only if his fitness and workload can be properly managed across all three formats, according to Australia’s coach Darren Lehmann.
Starc missed the second half of Australia’s Test summer and the World Twenty20 in India due to his recovery from ankle surgery, and made his international comeback in the recent one-day tri-series in the Caribbean. He is set to resume as Australia’s Test spearhead against Sri Lanka this month and Lehmann said juggling Starc through all forms of the game would continue to be key for Australia.
“If he stays on the park, he could [take 300 wickets],” Lehmann told the Age. “He plays all formats – that is the hardest part for him, managing him through that is going to be our challenge as a coaching staff and selection panel, making sure high-priority Test tours, one-day tours, World Cups and all that, are going to be high on the agenda, and making sure he is fit and available for those.
“He has had a big lay-off. For him to come back and then do what he did [in the West Indies], as always, he gets wickets … for us it was a pretty good tick-the-box exercise where he got through and looking forward to the next phase of Test cricket.”
The Sri Lankan pitches will likely favour spin and reverse swing, and Starc’s ability to get the older ball moving could be important. Lehmann said Starc’s speed and swing would be key assets in Sri Lanka, a view shared by South African fast bowler Allan Donald, who is acting as Australia’s bowling coach for the Sri Lanka tour.
“Starc’s the one, without a shadow of doubt,” Donald told Cricket Australia. “He’s a 150 (kph) bowler, he’s done it in the World Cup and in Twenty20 cricket. I’ve seen him destroy top orders, middle orders, lower orders doing that same thing from both sides. That’s where he is at, and that’s why he is the leading fast bowler in the world right now.”
Australia have a two-day intra-squad practice game in Sri Lanka this week, followed by a first-class tour game ahead of the opening Test in Pallekele, beginning on July 26. (ESPNcricinfo)