Expensive ... Mitchell Starc. Photo: Getty Images
MITCHELL STARC must regain his accuracy in time for Sri Lanka's fourth-innings chase in the Hobart Test after he finished as Australia's most expensive Test bowler for the second consecutive innings.
Captain Michael Clarke's frustration with the highly promising left-armer's lack of economy was reflected in him giving Shane Watson first use of the ball on day three and, more significantly, later replacing him after just two overs with the second new ball.
Clarke's move was not isolated, as of the five spells Starc bowled on day three he was given only two overs in three of them. He finished the innings with figures of 1-104 from 24 overs.
Ben Hilfenhaus's likely absence from the attack has increased the pressure on Starc, not least because Australia's only other fit paceman, Peter Siddle, customarily is not employed with the new ball whereas Starc typically is. The towering 22-year-old pitched the ball up seeking movement but got little. The resulting half-volleys were relished by Sri Lanka's batsmen, especially opener Tillakaratne Dilshan.
While Starc got some reward midway through day three, bowling Dilshan with a fine yorker for 147, the Sri Lankan had already claimed eight of his 21 boundaries from his bowling by that stage.
"Sometimes bowlers bowl really well but I'm really enjoying his width. I'm always happy to get width, I score a lot of runs there," Dilshan said.
"Compared to others I'm a little bit different. My batting style is that I'm always trying to score runs and be positive. I don't mind, I just go for it from the first ball."
The selectors' faith in Starc was evident in his selection ahead of Mitchell Johnson for this Test, because although the younger left-armer claimed eight wickets for the Perth Test, he also conceded more than 4.5 runs an over in the match.
Johnson, who has previously been pilloried for being too expensive, conceded less than four an over.
" 'Starky' has been in the queue for a long time, the past eight to 12 months, and we thought he bowled really well in the Test match in Perth, as did Mitchell Johnson," Clarke said before the match regarding team selection.