Mitchell Starc excited that Australia can get ‘a lot better’ after scrappy win

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Jun
7

Mitchell Starc said that he believed that the best of Australia’s World Cup cricket is still to come, after making it two wins out of two with a hard-fought 15-run win over West Indies at Trent Bridge.

Starc himself delivered the coup de grace, claiming the first five-wicket haul of the tournament to derail West Indies’ pursuit of 289, but deflected the praise for the victory to his team-mate Nathan Coulter-Nile, whose remarkable career-best score of 92 from 60 balls helped rescue the side from 79 for 5.

“It’s exciting that we haven’t probably played awesome cricket today,” said Starc. “We’ve probably played some really good cricket in patches, but there’s definitely things we can get a lot better at in all three facets, so that’s exciting for the group.

Finding ways to win and being five for not many and seeing Coults strike them the way he did was fantastic for him and for the group, to get us to a competitive total that we felt pretty confident in defending. Yeah, plenty of positives to take from today.”

In sealing the win, Starc became the fastest bowler in ODI history to reach 150 wickets, achieving the mark in his 77th game to surpass the previous record held by Pakistan’s Saqlain Mushtaq. And in nailing his yorkers to unsettle West Indies’ batsmen, it was a timely reprisal of the Player-of-the-Tournament form he showed when Australia won the last World Cup on home soil in 2015.

“I guess I’ve been pretty clear and calm in my approach to cricket in the last few months, and hopefully that’s a sign today that even when it’s probably in the balance, I can stay calm,” he said.

“Yeah, I guess having that experience of four years ago probably helps play a part, but we’ve got guys that can bowl throughout an innings and bowl at the death, plenty of options for Aaron [Finch] to go to when called upon. It was another positive today for us to be able to defend that total, but obviously we had to get there with Coults first, which was fantastic.”

“It’s something I enjoy doing, bowling at the death,” he added. “You’re not going to win them all, and there’s going to be times where you go the journey or where you don’t quite get your team over the line. But I think that’s what I enjoy about the challenge of that.

Watch on Hotstar (India only)Mitchell Starc’s five-wicket haul

“I guess the yorker, for me, is one [delivery] I’ve probably gone to more often than not in the past. So whilst they’ll know it’s coming, as long as I keep executing it, hopefully it’s going to be better for me than them.”

Australia’s next challenge will come at The Oval on Sunday, when they take on another of the tournament’s big guns, India, who are also unbeaten after seeing off South Africa in their opening fixture at Southampton on Wednesday.

Starc missed the 3-2 series win in India in March, and claimed not to have watched it on telly while recovering from a pectoral muscle injury. But he said he was looking forward to the challenge of bowling to their aggressive batting line-up.

“I guess as a bowling group, for us to continue talking about what we do really well and what we can control. We know they’re a fantastic team. They’ve got depth in their batting, they’re strong throughout.

“Virat [Kohli] is obviously one of their key batsmen. Rohit [Sharma] scored a hundred [against South Africa], so we’ll have a chat about them as a bowling group, but at the same time we’ve got to remember what we can control, and that’s our strengths and where we want to bowl to the conditions, as well.”

Starc will enter that contest knowing that he has already got the better of one of the most powerful batting line-ups in the competition, even if in the case of Chris Gayle, the delivery with which he finally claimed his wicket ought to have been a free-hit after a previous no-ball went uncalled.

“I didn’t until about five minutes ago when someone told me,” said Starc. “I’m normally pretty close [to the front line], and I’ve actually been a fair way back for the last few weeks. I got away with that one, fortunately.

“I’ve had some good battles with Chris over the years, and he’s obviously a major weapon for them, and we just saw a little glimpse of it today, how strong he can be when he strikes that ball.

“He’s so strong, and I guess he finds the gap hitting over the top, doesn’t he? We knew that going into this contest that they’re going to have a few really big strikers and lots of boundaries, which he’s one of, but we were very fortunate to get him early enough to put them on the back foot again with the new ball.”

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