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Fast bowling reset the spur driving Mitchell Starc to ensure he’s not an Ashes spectator

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“I think I’ve been able to bring it all back together. Last year was probably my most consistent red-ball year without compromising pace, and being able to add a few things in like wobble seam I learned from the other two big fellas. So adding to it rather than compromising a strength to fit in.”

In Australia, against the West Indies over two Tests in Perth and Adelaide, then South Africa in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, Starc will be the ideal offsider for Test skipper Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood. He is also the first pace bowler chosen in south Asian conditions, and can expect plenty of work in India.

Mitchell Starc played one Test on the 2019 Ashes tour.Credit:Getty

In England, though, Starc will be striving to ensure he is not primarily a spectator in 2023, although he accepts that it may still be a possibility given Boland’s skills.

“What I bring to the table is being something different,” he says. “Being a left-armer and having a bit of extra air speed, rather than compromising, but just adding to it to better play my role for the group.

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“If that means five Tests, great. If that means it’s much like last time where it’s conditions or match-ups based, that’s fine. But I won’t be compromising my strengths to do that.”

It’s been 12 years since Star made his international debut, as a painfully shy 20-year-old in a 50-over game against India at Vizag.

His Test career is still on the up, after plenty of memorable interludes where he rankled against being rested, faced sustained criticism from Shane Warne, and had to adjust his kit bag of skills after the Newlands scandal saw a severe reduction in the amount of reverse swing.

Starc has declined to join the Indian Premier League like many of his contemporaries because he reserves that time to share with his wife Alyssa Healy, and is perhaps happiest of all on the golf course.

During the Ashes last year, Starc elected to drive home early to Sydney for an extra couple of days at home and an extra 36 holes, rather than waiting for the team charter flight that was to follow. It was a reminder that Starc, after trying to fit in with the predominant culture of the team as a young player, now prefers to steer his own path.

“We finished the Test early, so it was either hang around in Victoria for a couple of days or take the option of driving the car back,” Starc says. “There were an extra couple of nights at home in our own bed and we got a couple of extra rounds of golf in Sydney, which was ideal.

“Certainly through the COVID stuff, golf was the only thing we were allowed to do. So it was an escape from the hotel, it was four-and-a-half hours away from cricket, it was a relaxing space. And you still get them time into your legs, walking 18 holes. That’s how I’ve used golf, as my outlet to get away from cricket.”

After his surprising omission from Australia’s final Twenty20 World Cup campaign, Starc said he had always put Test cricket at the very summit of his priorities. He now has a long run of Test matches in which to show exactly why.

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