Mitchell Starc has pleaded his case to play all five Ashes Tests as Hobart’s Bellerive Oval unveiled a deep green pitch which points to one last round of misery for England’s flaky batsmen.
Australia’s day-night Test specialist palmed off concerns about being the only fast bowler from Australia or England in line to be part of every Test in this congested series, with the last match beginning on Friday.
Mitchell Starc is pushing to be the only pace bowler from either side to play all five Tests of the Ashes series.Credit:Getty
“I’m feeling good,” Starc said, adding: “It’s the last Test match of an Ashes series at home and it’s pink ball too. I won’t be asking for a rest.”
After struggling to finish last season’s four-Test series against India, Starc shapes as the one constant among Australia’s pace attack which may change yet again for the fifth and final Test.
Jhye Richardson is still carrying a foot problem after his second innings haul of five wickets in the Adelaide Test as a replacement for the injured Josh Hazlewood, while Richardson’s replacement, Scott Boland, remains in doubt with a rib injury after spectacular performances in Melbourne and Sydney.
This may open the door for specialist swing bowler Michael Neser to regain his place in the side following a Test debut during the previous day-night encounter in Adelaide.
Green tinge … The Blundstone Arena pitch on Wednesday. The ground’s first Ashes Test starts on Friday.Credit:Andrew Wu
Australia have won the previous nine day-night Tests in Australia, often well ahead of time, but a gloomy weather forecast could prevent them taking the series 4-0.
Sixty overs were lost to rain in the fourth Test at the SCG when England hung on for a draw with last pair Stuart Broad and Jimmy Anderson at the crease.
Whatever concerns the selectors have about Starc’s stamina after last season should be swayed by his amazing record in day-night Tests, 52 wickets in nine matches at an average of 18, and a sporty pitch.
Starc is encouraged by the fact that his previous conversations with chairman of selectors and former teammate George Bailey have been “pretty chilled”.
Curator Marcus Pamplin revealed he was following the example of regular day-night Test venue Adelaide by leaving extra grass on the pitch to preserve the shine on the pink ball.
“It will have a tinge of green, that’s for sure,” Pamplin said with suitable understatement, suggesting “there will be a bit in it”.
Starc has based his unmatched success with the pink ball around his approach to white-ball cricket, where there can be more swing early in the innings.
The only player to claim 50 wickets in day-night Tests, Starc is also widely regarded as one of the best white ball bowlers in the world because of his phenomenal strike rate, 26 balls per wicket in one-day internationals.
“I’ve always found the pink ball to me more like a white ball than a red ball,” Starc said. “Whether that comes into play with the way I approach my one-day cricket I’m not sure. I’d like to carry on that plan of attack we had with the pink ball in Adelaide to get a positive result for us this week.”
Only one day-night Test was scheduled for this series until the Perth Test was moved given Western Australia’s inflexible border restrictions. It became a day-night Test in Hobart to keep the same three-hour time difference from the west that is so appealing to broadcasters and viewers.
Despite his success with the pink ball Starc does not want to see day-night Tests become the predominant form of the game.
“I think it’s a good thing for the game, I just think we shouldn’t get carried away with it,” Starc said.
“There’s still a bit part of me that’s the traditionalist.
“Certainly the [day-night] Test around Adelaide has become a huge feature of the summer. It’s a fantastic Test match and a great advertisement for the game.
“The contest between the bat and ball is usually pretty even because they know what wicket they need to prepare in Adelaide for the pink ball. So hopefully it’s a really good week here [in Hobart].
“In terms of how many pink ball Tests we want to play in a summer, I hope we don’t get carried away.”
“I’d like to see plenty of red ball cricket and throw in the pink ball to compliment that.”
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