Warnie says Mitch Starc has taken some of the criticism on board and turned his game around.
Warnie says Mitch Starc has taken some of the criticism on board and turned his game around.

How Starc won Warnie over

I've been critical of Mitchell Starc at times in the past; his body language, the idea that he can clean up the tail, but not being as effective as he should be with the new ball. Not this time though.

I love that he has gone back to just trying to bowl super-fast, gone back to being the enforcer in the team and as well as that he's being more consistent. He's a real threat again, a real weapon at any stage of the game. He's someone the opposition fears.

We don't just criticise someone for no reason.

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Mitchell Starc has turned his bowling form around. Picture: AAP
Mitchell Starc has turned his bowling form around. Picture: AAP

 

The criticism of Mitchell from a lot of us commentators was out of pure frustration as we all knew what he could be.

Maybe he has listened to some of it, and said to himself "a lot of people are saying the same things".

He's worked on himself and its paying dividends.

He has made a few little adjustments to his action, and I also think he has a new mentality.

I think missing out in the Ashes hurt him, and so it should have.

I'm not sure if Justin Langer has told him to be that enforcer, but the changes he has made, to be aggressive again, to be positive, and to be consistent is what we've always wanted him to be.

Everyone was frustrated he wasn't living up to those expectations. We all understand you can have a bad game, but it was happening too regularly.

I love how Mitchell Starc has bounced back. He gets a huge tick from me and I say well done.

 

Is it time for a proper day-night Test under lights with a pink ball on Boxing Day? Picture: Michael Klein
Is it time for a proper day-night Test under lights with a pink ball on Boxing Day? Picture: Michael Klein

 

LIGHT UP BOXING DAY

There's a few reasons to play pink ball, day/night Tests, but the main one is to create a contest between bat and ball. But that's not needed everywhere, because in so many places, including Australia, the pitch does that.

To me Brisbane, Perth and Sydney are always a wonderful contest because the surfaces are good. The Perth pitch is back to fast and bouncy, so there's no need to be day/night there, especially with the time difference.

Brisbane is the best cricket wicket in the world, and Sydney generally has a bit of pace and it has started to spin a little bit more like it used to. We don't need to change anything there, except work a little harder to get crowds at the Gabba and Perth that's the real issue there.

That leaves Adelaide and Melbourne.

I think the Adelaide Oval is the perfect venue for a day-night Test, it's probably the best venue with a wicket that tended to favour batters.

And then there's the MCG. There's been so much talk about the pitch, which has been too flat for a few years now, so why don't we just take that out of the equation and make it a day/night Test.

It's easy to say "if it's ain't broke, don't fix it". But everything evolves for the better.

I'm all for tradition, I love tradition, but we know that regardless of the surface in a pink ball Test that once the game gets to twilight, then night time, the ball reacts. That's why Melbourne would be perfect for a day/night Test.

 

How about a new ball from both ends? Picture: David Caird
How about a new ball from both ends? Picture: David Caird

 

NEW BALLS PLEASE

You have to listen to feedback and listening to players after the two pink Tests, the issue was the ball went soft very early.

That's why so much revolved around the night session, with tactics designed to try and be bowling at night. It adds an extra element to the match, but can mean flat sessions during the day.

I like the idea of a new ball from both ends, like in one-day cricket, but that's unlikely to get any tick of approval from the ICC.

But what about a new ball after 50 overs instead of 80 during the day/night Tests?

It will still do a lot during the day, as it does early, but will continue to do a bit no matter when you bowl. It will create an almost permanent contest.

People will say it takes the spinners out of the game, but it won't, spinners want to bowl with a hard ball.

Evolution has taken us to day/night Tests to ensure a contest, so why not keep going if they can't get the ball right?

 

Warnie is amazed by Marnus Labuschagne’s swift improvement. Picture: Getty Images
Warnie is amazed by Marnus Labuschagne’s swift improvement. Picture: Getty Images

 

 

MIGHTY MARNUS

When I first saw Marnus Labuschange in Australia earlier this year in Sydney I thought he had a lot of work to do. But I don't think anyone in my time has improved that much in a short amount of time.

Justin Langer, Matthew Maynard in England, and his stint in country cricket has really helped him. Like Starc, he's made some adjustments, and his sheer will power has done wonders

I saw Matthew Hayden in the early 90s, he couldn't play spin at all, so myself and Tim May bowled to him every session in the nets to try and improve. But it took him a good six or seven years to improve and then go on to become a great player.

Generally it takes people a long time, or the second or third crack at it to really deliver. I didn't see anything in Marnus that I thought he could be this good. I think if anyone says they did, they're having a laugh. No-one knew he was going to be this good.

But all credit to the selectors for giving him a chance, and all credit to Marnus Labuschange for turning himself in to the player he has become. I am thoroughly impressed.

 

 

 

NEARLY NUMBER ONE

With the rise of Marnus, plus the class of Steve Smith and David Warner back in the side, and the awesome bowling outfit, Australia has the makings of a great side again.

They key for Australia to get back to number one is Joe Burns and Travis Head. If they can nail this summer, the next two Test matches, suddenly it's pretty hard to get in to the Australian side again.

Burns and Matthew Wade are still young enough to play for a few more years and I think Travis Head could be a future captain.

We've got depth in bowling, spin depth is an issue, but you don't need to play two spinners too often the calibre of the quicks.

We're looking a bloody good side I reckon.

 

PITCH IMPERFECT

Until it becomes a day/night match the Boxing Day Test will remain a new ball pitch.

If you don't take wickets with the new ball it's a hard slog, and that's where your spinners come in to it, and you need some imagination from the captains to negate the pitch.

The combination of ordinary captains, ordinary spinners and no new ball wickets could be disastrous. It overemphasises the flatness of the pitch. If captain's stick with two slips, a ring-field and bowl medium pacers, it's impossible to win the match.

You need to have good fields, catching covers, catching mid-wickets, bowl at the stumps, bowl cutters, use the bouncer theory.

Over all the years I played at the MCG there wasn't too many draws. That was because both sides were tactically good, their bowlers were good, and they took wickets with the new ball.

New Zealand come back in to the series with Trent Boult back in the team. But if their big guns don't stand up with the ball, they will get blown away again.

 

 

 

 

A new mantra has helped. Picture: AAP
A new mantra has helped. Picture: AAP
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