Starc’s new record just one of his freakish accomplishments

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Email Mitchell Starc breaks bowling records as Australia skittles Sri Lanka in first ODI

Updated August 22, 2016 07:35:24

Photo: Mitchell Starc (C) is on track to break all sorts of ODI bowling records. (AFP: Ishara S Kodikar)

You could have forgiven Mitchell Starc for being jaded. His most dominant performance in a Test series had just been wasted, with the general shambles around him resulting in three straight defeats.

Instead he came into the first ODI against Sri Lanka looking just as keen and just as dangerous. The same smooth run-up, the same zing through the air, the same sight of a ball rushing through a batsman and smashing his stumps.

Kusal Perera was the opponent, a wafty drive was his useless countermeasure, and his wicket was Mitchell Starc's 99th in ODI cricket.

Scorecard

Sri Lanka 8-227 (50 ov)
LD Chandimal 80no, M Starc 3-32, J Faulkner 4-38
Australia 7-228 (46.5ov)
S Smith 58, A Finch 56
Australia wins by 3 wickets with 19 balls remaining

Starc's third spell brought about the 100th, making him the fastest ever to that mark in terms of games played.

Dhananjaya de Silva, who had made such a resilient hundred in the recent third Test at Colombo, lasted three Starc deliveries. He was undone by a lack of pace, Starc rolling his fingers so that de Silva's off-side drive skewed to George Bailey's on-side dive.

Starc reached the milestone in 52 matches, bettering the mark of 53 set nearly 20 years ago by Pakistan spinner Saqlain Mushtaq.

"We were aware of that," said Starc's team-mate Aaron Finch after the game. "We thought that he'd get it in the tri-series in the West Indies [in June] but he didn't get any wickets in the final.

"It's a fantastic achievement from him, he's been the best in the world for a number of years now. When he gets it right there's absolutely no one better around."

When you're talking about the ODI format, you're probably right. Starc has only recently started to get the form, fitness and confidence to be a genuine force in Test cricket. But long before that, he was a 50-over monster.

Take his attack on the stumps. Time and again, he opens or closes matches like he opened the first game in this series: bowling full and straight, often swerving the ball in the air at ridiculous pace, turning bails into exclamations.

Kusal Perera bowled by Mitchell Starc Photo: Sri Lanka's Kusal Perera is bowled out by Mitchell Starc. (AP Photo: Eranga Jayawardena)

His yorkers bowl batsmen, sure, but even his full tosses often do the same, given that wicked bit of bend in the trajectory that makes them so hard to hit.

During the most recent domestic 50-over competition for New South Wales, he played six games versus other players with eight, and still topped the bowling by a margin of 11 wickets with his tally of 26.

But it wasn't just that: it was that 17 of those batsmen were bowled.

The proportion isn't as drastic in his ODI career, but with 37 of his 101 wickets coming by hitting the stumps, it's still huge. Compare Starc's 37 per cent to a bowler like Glenn McGrath tracking at under 23 per cent.

The defining image of his career may prove to be him detonating Brendon McCullum's stumps with the third ball of a World Cup final. The New Zealand captain was the tournament's talisman, but Starc produced the counter-jinx.

That World Cup was huge for Starc. His 22 wickets were equal top with Trent Boult, who played one more match and bowled 21.1 more overs. Ten bowlers in total sent down more overs than Starc.

Even including the anomalous candidates who bowled a handful of deliveries, Starc's strike rate of a wicket every 17.4 balls was fifth in the tournament. His economy rate of 3.5 runs per over was second, behind Michael Clarke who bowled five overs when Afghanistan was 3 for 46. Starc's average of 10.18 was second to Jeevan Mendis, who bowled five overs to Starc's 63.5.

His position on the all-time lists is probably even more impressive. Qualified for bowlers who have delivered at least 1000 balls in the format, Starc's career strike rate of 24.4 is the third-best ever. His average of 19.52 is fifth.

But of all these, there's one stat that blows me away. Taking five wickets in an ODI innings is unlikely. Bowlers have a maximum of 10 overs, batsmen are attacking, lots of innings end early.

Mitchell Starc has taken five wickets or more on five occasions. The great Wasim Akram, another left-arm swing bowler, did it six times. Starc reached his current mark after 30 matches. Akram played 356.

In fact, Starc is already 10th on the all-time list for five-wicket innings in ODIs.

Saqlain and Lance Klusener are with Akram on six, from 169 and 171 games respectively. McGrath (250 games) and Malinga (191) did it seven times, Shahid Afridi (398) and Brett Lee (221) had nine.

Muttiah Muralitharan did it 10 times in 350 games, while Waqar Younis tops the lot with 13 from 262.

Starc by his standards has had a 22-game dry spell, but the disproportionality of his 52 matches compared to those around him is glaring. If he could match anything close to his current rate through a career as long, he would smash those records like a middle stump.

In a bat-dominated game, Starc makes life unhappy for the advantaged.

"It's a lot more fun [watching him] than facing him, I can tell you," said Finch, who was bowled by Starc during the aforementioned domestic competition for 2.

"Just the skills that he has with swing, pace, left-arm yorkers, he can bowl good bouncers, he's a pretty complete package when you look at it."

That's the package that saw Starc end the first game of this series with 3 for 32 from 10 overs on a slow and turning Premadasa Stadium pitch, helping restrict Sri Lanka to a score of 227 that was chased with room to spare. He even had to come out late and score the winning run.

Australia's miserable tour finally had some cheer, and Starc was key to the breakthrough. The first hundred wickets have been a hell of a ride. By the time he doubles them, who knows what other records go down.

Topics: cricket, sport, sri-lanka, australia

First posted August 22, 2016 06:15:17

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