Three former Australia cricketers have ripped into pacer Mitchell Starc’s form and fitness during the Adelaide Test against India, even as the hosts stare at defeat at the end of day four.
At stumps Australia were 104/4, needing another 219 for an unlikely victory with their fate resting on the shoulders of Shaun Marsh, who was not out 31, and local boy Travis Head who remained unbeaten on 11.
India amassed 307 in their second innings with vice-captain Ajinkya Rahane smashing 70 and first innings century-maker Cheteshwar Pujara a composed 71.
A late collapse got the crowd on their feet and gave Australia a flicker of hope, with India’s last four wickets falling for just four runs.
Spinner Nathan Lyon was the pick of the bowlers, taking six wickets for 122 runs off 42 overs. It was his 13th five-wicket haul in Tests.
Mitchell Starc snared 3/40 but struggled to find his line and length for most parts of his spell. He bowled two balls way down the leg side for four byes, conceding 17 runs in two overs, before he was taken out of the attack.
Former Australia pacer Glenn McGrath, who was commentating, said that Starc was unable to find his rhythm because of a potential technical problem in his run-up.
“If you’ve got good rhythm in your run-up, good intent running in and building up pace...a strong front arm and getting through the crease [then you’re likely to be bowling well],” McGrath was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au.
“I just think it’s got to do with his run-up firstly, and then when he gets to the crease he doesn’t have his normal rhythm. He’s probably leaning back a little and over-striding, and then you don’t get through the crease as well.
“We saw two balls where [he] dragged it down the leg side [and] went for four byes. You know when you [don’t have] rhythm, it’s coming out poorly.
“He’s not using his run-up, he’s trying to do it all at the crease.
“And you’ve got to feel for him – when the confidence is down, you’ve just got to relax and trust in yourself that you haven’t forgotten how to bowl overnight.
“Just run in, relax and just bowl.”
Starc had earlier spoken about his change in action that helped him generate movement with the Kookaburra ball early on that troubled the Indian top order.
“I’ve been sort of tweaking a few things and trying a few different things with David Saker, looking at perhaps how I bowled in 2015 throughout that World Cup and trying to perhaps get over my front leg a bit more,” he had said.
Fellow left-arm pacer Mitchell Johnson also criticised Starc during commentary. “I just don’t like his body language,” Johnson told ABC Grandstand radio.
“He hasn’t given a bit of a glare or puffed his chest out with a good follow through, let the batsman know he’s in the contest, that he’s going to rip the pegs out,” he added.
Former Australia leg-spinner Shane Warne, who is doing television commentary during the series, also said that Starc’s returns in 2018 were “not good enough”.
“He’s the leader of the attack, your main strike weapon, he cleans up the tail really well, but to take 19 wickets at 36.1 in six matches, he probably needs to be better than that,” Warne said on Fox Cricket.
“It’s not good enough, if it’s not working, and you’re having too much time off, you’ve got to find a way to play more cricket to find your rhythm,” he added.