Australia legend Adam Gilchrist feels that Mitchell Starc has looked far from his usual monstrous self in this series, and believes Tim Paine has been apprehensive about trusting the left-armer in key moments. Gilchrist feels that Starc, after a decent start, has not hit his stride in this series.
Expectations were sky high from the rocket arm of Mitchell Starc after the left-armer dismissed Prithvi Shaw in just the second ball of the series, yet, as has been the case with the speedster for quite a few years now, the New South Welshman has failed to live up to expectations. After picking 4 wickets in the first innings of the series, Starc has claimed just 7 more in the next 7, and, despite having all but no luck, has looked off colour. The left-armer’s wicketless venture on Day 5 in the second innings of the SCG Test exemplified his struggles, and there has been all but no improvement from his part in the ongoing fourth and final Test at the Gabba.
Starc’s inconsistent, ‘spray and pray’ method has seen Paine use him sporadically and instead go to Cummins and Hazlewood during key moments, and this was evident in the first innings of the fourth Test, where the skipper took the left-armer off after an erratic three-over burst. Legendary wicket-keeper batsman Adam Gilchrist believes that Paine’s handling of Starc suggests that the Aussie skipper’s trust in his talisman is dwindling by the passing day.
“There’s just something about Mitch – and again we’re speculating – something hasn’t looked quite right. That to me has been confirmed in the fact Tim Paine has given him the new ball, but so many spells have just been really short spells, like three overs. I know that your impact bowlers are meant to come in and have a little burst, but there just doesn’t seem to have been the trust that Mitchell Starc’s going to do the job that Tim Paine’s wanted,” Gilchrist told Fox Cricket.
“Whether that’s an issue with Mitchell Starc or whether it’s just the uncertainty from the captain, but even this Test match – even (Monday night) in one over that he had, he was scuffing at the foot mark, he was changing his boots … He hasn’t been able to really get into that full rhythm and be so damaging that has given him his reputation leading into this series.”
Starc aside, Paine himself has endured an extremely rough series - as a keeper and a captain. While the Tasmanian has fared exceptionally well with the bat - averaging over 40 - his glovework and captaincy, however, has been anything but appreciable, with his on-field conduct also projecting both himself and the team in bad light. Gilchrist stated that Paine ticked a lot of boxes with his batting, but let the team down with his keeping and captaincy at crucial junctures in the series, most notably on the final day of the Sydney Test.
“His wicketkeeping, he’ll be really disappointed with certainly the last two Test matches, there’s no doubt about that. He was going very well, up to that point (dropped catch) with the gloves. Captaincy wise, I think he’ll reflect on some of the tactics that he put in place in Sydney – and even here maybe in his first innings, trying to chase down those 10 wickets against India,” Gilchrist said of Paine.
“Maybe it’s taken a little bit of the gloss off his captaincy and his leadership, particularly the incident in Sydney where he came out and admitted that he just got it wrong. He went below the standard that he had set himself – not others that judge him, but he asked for a standard, he set a standard and he went below that. But his batting, tick. It’s not always got be big hundreds at No. 7 that make you a really solid contributor. I think he’s averaging in the 40s for the first time for Australian wicketkeeper in seven years. So overall, flat line.”
The legendary wicket-keeper batsman was also critical of Matthew Wade, who according to him was guilty of not making the most of his chances by throwing his wicket away one too many times. The southpaw is averaging just 21.62 in the ongoing series and has come under heavy criticism for his baffling shot selection, something that has been his kryptonite all throughout his career.
“I love his (Wade) fighting qualities that he was prepared to do the team things and go up and down (the batting order) and do whatever is required. That (his second innings dismissal at the Gabba) was just unfortunate, in the second innings in Sydney he copped an absolute beauty of a delivery that he could’ve done nothing else with. But we all know a couple of times he threw it away – and when you throw away the big opportunities to go on and get the big ones, it’s those slightly unlucky dismissals that you look back and go ‘well that (when you threw your wicket away) is when you should’ve cashed in before’.”