Former Australia captain Mark Taylor has urged selectors to think about a change to the country’s Test bowling attack after questioning Mitchell Starc’s place in the Test XI.
Starc has come under intense scrutiny after a modest series against India, with the fast bowler taking just 11 wickets at 40.72 across the four Tests.
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The left-arm quick was particularly targeted by India’s batsman on the final day of the decisive fourth Test at the Gabba, which India won in the most extraordinary of circumstances.
Like at the SCG last week, Australia’s bowling attack couldn’t find the 10 wickets needed but this time India went one further to pull off a remarkable, record-breaking 328-run chase.
Starc was used sparingly as the game tightened in Brisbane on Tuesday, the left-armer taken for 20 in one pivotal over that turned the game in India’s favour.
Taylor says even though Australia’s bowling attack is rightly considered among the strongest in the world, it lacks the subtlety required to trouble the world’s best batsmen.
The fact that for two Tests in a row the Aussies failed to take the necessary 20 wickets to get a result, adds weight to Taylor’s assessment.
Pat Cummins (4-55) was the pick of Australia’s attack in a gutsy 24-over effort as he finished with man-of-the-series honours, while Josh Hazlewood (1-74) ended the four-match series with 17 wickets at 19.35.
Nathan Lyon is Australia’s best spin bowler, despite the 100-Test veteran also having a poor series by his standards – nine wickets at an average of 55.11 and strike rate of 124.6 the worst rate for any home series in his illustrious career.
Taylor says that leaves the at-times inconsistent Starc as the Aussie bowler most likely to be given the axe.
“You can have Starc when he’s bowling at his best, but I think we need some subtlety in our bowling,” Taylor told Wide World of Sports.
“We need someone who can swing the ball a bit, someone who can ask questions around LBW or bowled, not always looking to bounce batsmen out or get them caught behind.
“If you look at Shardul Thakur – he was a net bowler at the start of the series. He bowled some bad deliveries but he was also able to take wickets, because he was able to swing the ball, do something with it and ask questions that other bowlers weren’t asking.
“So what Australia is missing at the moment is subtlety around their bowling. There’s a lot of talk about Australia not being aggressive enough, but I don’t agree with that. I think we need to find some subtlety in our bowling attack.”
Taylor has named one-Test wonder Chadd Sayers and uncapped quick Dan Worrall as two men he believes could step into the Aussie pace attack.
Sayers took two wickets in his only Test match against South Africa in Johannesburg in 2018.
The 33-year-old right-armer finished with the unflattering figures of 2-146 in that Test but his first class record of 315 wickets at 26.10 is far more impressive.
Worrall, like Sayers, is another right-arm quick that can swing and seam the ball effectively – characteristics Taylor says would give Australia’s Test XI another dimension to their bowling.
“Chadd Sayers and Dan Worrall come to mind as players with some good subtlety,” Taylor said.
“They’re in the wings and should be considered.
“Chad Sayers – despite his age, his Test career is definitely not necessarily done.”
Skipper throws support behind Starc
Despite the scrutiny around Starc’s place in the side, Australia captain Tim Paine has thrown his support behind the fast bowler, suggesting that he may have been carrying slight injury concerns into the Gabba Test.
“Starcy is someone who, the way he bowls, he is going to come in for some criticism,” Paine said.
“When he’s on he is one of the great bowlers you’ll see, and at times he doesn’t quite get it right and when that’s the case it doesn’t look great.
“But again Mitchell Starc has done an amazing job for our Test team over a long period of time and he will continue to do so.”
With uncapped squad members Michael Neser and Sean Abbott also waiting in the wings, Aussie coach Justin Langer said he’d have no hesitation in selecting the same men if he had his time again.
“Maybe (I asked too much), but I’m proud of the fact those four stood up for the whole series,” he told ABC Sport.
“You would have been a brave man coming into the Gabba Test and not selecting those four bowlers … I would’ve done the same thing.
“Tell me who you would’ve picked when the series was on the line … I would have picked them every single day.”
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