Australian coach Darren Lehmann thinks pacer Mitchell Starc has the ability to take 300 Test wickets and joins the ranks of the nation’s great pacers. But, he has to be fit for long enough.
“If he stays on the park, he could. He plays all formats. That is the hardest part for him. Managing him through that is going to be our challenge as a coaching staff and selection panel, and for high-priority Test tours, one-day tours, World Cups and all that making sure he is fit and available for those,” Lehmann said.
Left-armer seamer Starc has 91 wickets from 25 Test matches. He has replaced the retired Mitchell Johnson as Australia’s pace spearhead but a succession of foot injuries has stifled the 26-year-old’s output. After a long lay-off following ankle surgery, Starc made a successful return in the Caribbean for the one-day tournament against West Indies and South Africa last month and will lead the attack for Australia’s three-Test tour of Sri Lanka.
Only four Australian seamers have breached the 300-wicket mark, with Glenn McGrath (563) topping the list ahead of Dennis Lillee (355), Johnson (313) and Brett Lee (310), but Lehmann said Starc had the qualities to join the club.
Starc took eight wickets in the Caribbean at an average of 21.37 from his five matches. and Lehmann was delighted with the return of Starc. “Happy he got through … He said he was a little bit rusty early but felt better as the tournament went on. It’s a good sign,” said Lehmann.
“For us, it was a pretty good tick-the-box exercise where he got through and we’re looking forward to the next phase of Test cricket,” he added.
Australia will play their first Test against Sri Lanka at Pallekele on July 26. Lehmann said he felt Starc’s reverse swing would be telling during the series. “He obviously has air speed, which is going to be important when the ball goes reverse. It’s important that we keep him fit and playing. We know how good he can be. It’s all up to him. His ability to knock over good batsmen and also knock over the tail quite quickly, for us, that is a really important thing when you are trying to get 20 wickets in a space of time.” Lehmann said.