‘Hopefully, I am going in the right direction’

Mitchell Starc... “I have not changed too much in my technique".-AP

At a media interaction in Chennai, Mitchell Starc, his wide smile surfacing frequently, speaks passionately about his growth in the fast lane, missing the IPL, and not discussing the sport with his girlfriend, who is a cricketer. Arun Venugopal has the details.

When Sportstar spoke to Mitchell Starc during an interview in October 2011, he was still very much a fringe player — having played two ODIs — but was marked as one to watch out for in the future. The left-arm paceman has, since then, played 16 more ODIs, besides earning the baggy green cap. Along with the likes of James Pattinson, Pat Cummins and Jackson Bird, Starc, with his fluid action and ability to swing the ball either way, is part of Australia’s formidable next-gen pace pack.

At a media interaction in Chennai, the 23-year-old, his wide smile surfacing frequently, speaks passionately about his growth in the fast lane, missing the IPL, and not discussing the sport with his girlfriend, who is a cricketer.

Excerpts:

Question: How much have you matured as a fast bowler in the last two years?

Answer: I have not changed too much in my technique. Maybe the little things in terms of cues to remind myself to get in better positions. I think the biggest thing for me has been not becoming mechanical, staying natural, and having that natural running technique. I have had a few people helping me. In England, I had Jason Gillespie, who is the coach at Yorkshire. I’ve had Troy Cooley back home in Australia and also Ali de Winter who is the bowling coach of our team. So those three guys have probably played a part in the last 18 months. I have learnt to manage my body, avoid injuries, and take care of recovery. Hopefully, I am going in the right direction.

Does having made your ODI debut (2010) here as well as the experience of playing in the Champions League (2011) ensure you are in a more comfortable space on this tour?

I was here on the Test tour too in 2010-11. I didn’t play any cricket before the ODI series but it was good to have that experience. That CL tour, in Chennai, was a great experience for guys like Patty (Pat Cummins) and I.

Despite being quite inexperienced, do you see yourself playing a senior role, given your current form?

I am still one of the younger guys, the youngest apart from Pattinson. I have learnt a lot from Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson... Peter is someone who gives 110% every time he plays. We are a close bowling unit and we are feeding a lot off one another. The wickets here don’t offer much to the fast bowlers. Mitchell has been here a few times and I have taken a lot out of his book, and from Peter’s. It’s more about patience for a fast bowler here.

So who’s the team’s official ball-shiner?

There is no one as such (laughs), but we have a few guys who can look after it; try a few things out.

Ever since Michael Clarke became captain, there seems to be greater emphasis on bowlers contributing with the bat and vice-versa for the batsmen. Do you personally enjoy batting?

All our bowlers work really hard when it comes to batting. Personally, I enjoy my batting a lot these days. I used to be weak as a batsman. I still work hard and it’s important the tail scores runs. You score 300 at the top and your tail scores 50, 100 or 150 runs. It all adds up and frustrates the opponent. You also have batsmen like David Warner who can roll the arm over a little. (There is) not a huge amount of emphasis on this, but it’s always handy if a player can excel at more than one thing.

What were the factors behind your decision to skip the IPL this season? Would you be a part of it in the future?

I look forward to playing in the IPL down the track. But my thinking was that I have just played for 18 months. So I need those six weeks off to recuperate because we obviously have a long season ahead with back-to-back Ashes. I want to play a lot of cricket for Australia first of all and experience the challenge of the IPL maybe next year or something.

Did you get to spend time with your girlfriend during the women’s World Cup? Does it help that both of you are cricketers?

I went to Mumbai for a couple of days to catch up with her (Alyssa Healy, who is former Australia ’keeper Ian Healy’s niece). But they (Aussie women’s team) go home now (after the World Cup) and we stay back in India. So a bit of a clash there, but good to see the girls do well and win the World Cup. It’s good to have someone who understands what you are doing because she also plays the same game. But we don’t talk too much cricket away from the field because we are going to get stuck with it for a long time.