The young Australian fast bowler, Mitchell Starc, in a candid interview with Cricketsoccer, said, he is confident to bowl well on Indian pitches.
You must be very happy that your girlfriend Alyssa Healy has been there in the world cup winning Australian team for women….
I went to Mumbai for a couple of days to just catch up with her! But the team is going home now. So… But it was really great to see the girls do well and win the World Cup. And they have obviously worked really hard for it. It was good to spend a couple of days with them in Mumbai and watch a game. And, it’s good to have someone who understands what you are doing because she also plays the same game. Look, we don’t talk too much cricket away from the field because we are going to get stuck with it for a long time!
You are one of the youngest fast bowlers of the touring Australian team. Have you discussed this with the senior bowlers in the touring party?
Yes, I am actually the youngest apart from James Pattinson. But, I have learned a lot from Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson. Both of them have been a great help to me. Peter always gives 110%. So to have him and Mitchell around is great. I am happy to learn from them, from their experiences. The bowling unit is closely knit and we use to discuss every aspect of bowling on Indian wickets.
Does it help to be a left-handed fast bowler?
A lot’s being made about playing left-arm fast bowlers. Every bowler in our team has his own specific skills. It’s actually great for the selectors to have so many different options. Mitchell is bowling really fast at the moment, breaking thumbs. Siddle is someone who can hold up one end and insert some energy. Hopefully, I can get the ball to move around like I have been doing this summer. So we all offer a lot. So hopefully we can bowl them out and get 20 wickets in every Test.
You came to India to play in the Champions League in 2010…
Well, I came before the Champions League, I was here on the Test tour. I didn’t play any cricket before the one-day series but it was good to have that experience. During the Champions League, I obviously spent a lot of time in Chennai. So it’s good to be back here. I am used to the stadium and the wicket. But it’s obviously going to be different this time. It was a great experience for Patty (Pattinson) and myself. Over the last two years, I have been really enjoying myself and looking to learn from our seniors and prove as much as I can. I have managed to play a lot of cricket over the past 18 months. I have understood my body and picked up a lot of things from different players and coaches along the way. I think I have improved a lot and I still have a long way to go. These are encouraging signs and I am hopefully going in the right direction.
How to bowl on Indian wickets must be a learning process for a young fast bowler like you?
There will not be much assistance for any of the fast bowlers. So it’s all about changing the length, mixing it up. You have to depend on the reverse swing. It’s more about being patient and forming bowling partnerships. You may not be the one taking the wickets; it could be happening at the other end. So everyone has an important role to play.
What are the changes you had brought in your bowling?
Technically, there is not much change. Maybe the little things. 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 the Australian team. So those three guys have probably played a significant part in the last 18 months. I have learned to manage my body, take care of it, avoid injuries and manage to take care of the recovery and all those things. I know my body a lot better now. I know the difference between something that’s going to keep me out with injury.
Is there any particular advice from Mitchell Johnson on how to bowl on Indian wickets?
The wickets here obviously don’t offer much to the fast bowlers like other places in the world, Australia included. Mitchell has been here a few times and I have taken a lot out of his book and from Peter Siddle’s. Both of them have bowled well to these (Indian) guys in the past and done well. For the younger bowlers to have these two around is great. Also, others Michael Clarke and Shane Watson have been here before. So learning from them is going to help us a lot.
What do you think is the best way to bowl on Indian pitches?
It’s more about patience for a fast bowler in India. It’s not going to happen as quickly as it might on sporting wickets like in Australia. But I think we have a core group of bowlers who can do a lot of different things and any combination of any given day could perform well.
How confident the Aussie fast bowlers are, to do well on Indian wickets?
We had watched the majority of the India-England series footage. And we saw how much of an impact their fast bowlers had on the series. Obviously, the spinners are going to play a massive part in the series but the fast bowlers will have to take a lot of wickets. We all have a great skill-set and we will all do different things. There is no reason why we can’t be successful here.
A test series between India and Australia is always going to be followed worldwide. Feeling extra pressure?
An India-Australia test series is always huge. It’s a great rivalry. I have been fortunate to play in the last two series (2010 in India and 2011-12 in Australia). It’s a huge test for any player to come and do well here in India. It’s important that we start well. Both teams are going to push the line but overstep it. That’s the important thing. The series has to be played in the right spirit.
Chennai will be really hot and humid. Will that be a problem for the Aussies?
I know, it’s going to be tough. Chennai is hot, I had heard. We’ve played in the UAE in the past and this is going to be pretty much a breeze compared to Dubai. It’s going to be pretty long days, I’m sure!
What about your batting?
In Test matches, everyone needs to bat obviously! All our bowlers work really hard on our batting. I am enjoying my batting a lot these days. Yes, I was really weak. But I had worked hard and still working on it. It’s really important for the tail to score a few runs. It helps the team a lot. You score 300 at the top and your tail scores 50, 100, or 150 runs. It all adds up and also frustrates the other team as well. So you have bowlers who can bat and you have batsmen like David Warner who can roll the arm a little. Michael Hussey used to do that in the past. It’s always handy if a player can excel at more than one thing.
How do you fancy your chances against an Indian batting order that seems to be out of form?
We do fancy our chances, but they are still a dangerous line-up and they are playing at home. They know the conditions a lot better than us. It’s going to be a massive challenge for us. But we are going to have to sit down and make our plans and go hard at them in the first Test.
The English fast bowlers had shown that reverse swing would play an important part on subcontinent wickets…
We had enjoyed how they used the reverse swing and that’s something we are going to have to do as well. We know the Indians play spin very, very well so we are going to look to maximize our strengths. We need to take early wickets, bowl natural swing at the top. But I think reverse swing will be crucial along with spin. We need to bowl well in tandem and bowl in good partnerships.
Is there anyone in the Australian team with the responsibility of keeping one side of the ball shining?
There is no one officially, but we have a few guys who can look after it. We can bowl cross seam, or with the rough outside up. We have got to what works so that we can get that reverse swing going.
Are you interested in playing in the IPL?
Definitely, I would like to play in the IPL. But, at this moment, my thinking is that I have just played for 18 months and I want to play as much as I can for Australia. So personally I need those six weeks off to recuperate because we obviously have a long season ahead for Australia with back-to-back Ashes. As much as I would have liked to play in the IPL, the better thing would be to get some rest. I want to play a lot of cricket for Australia first and maybe the challenge of the IPL maybe next year or something.
Courtesy: Debasish Datta exclusively for Cricketsoccer, who is a renowned journalist from India.