These damning numbers prove that the Australian Test side is losing valuable runs by leaving Mitchell Starc down the order.
Last week, cricket pundits were bemused to discover that Australian quick Mitchell Starc had leapfrogged England’s Ben Stokes on the ICC Men’s Test All-Rounder Rankings, determined by a complicated algorithm based on numbers and numbers alone.
Stokes is a two-time recipient of Wisden‘s Leading Cricketer in the World, and his all-round heroics at Headingley two years ago cemented his place in Ashes folklore.
Starc has been a world-class bowler for over a decade, but despite some memorable knocks in the Test arena, he’s never been considered a verified all-rounder.
But recent performances suggest perhaps it’s time for a rethink.
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Since January 2019, Starc has averaged 35.54 with the bat in Test cricket, scoring 391 runs in 19 innings.
During that period, he had averaged better than South African opener Aiden Markram, Indian No. 3 Cheteshwar Pujara, England opener Rory Burns and former Australian captain Tim Paine.
Incredibly, since the Covid-19 pandemic started in March 2020, Starc has averaged more with the bat than Indian superstar Virat Kohli.
During the 2021/22 Ashes series, Starc has scored more runs than every member of England’s squad apart from skipper Joe Root and No. 3 batter Dawid Malan.
Starc accumulated 117 runs at 58.50 in the first three Ashes Tests while remaining the highest wicket-taker of the series with 14 scalps at 19.64. Meanwhile, Stokes has mustered 101 runs at 16.83 and taken four wickets at 71.50.
Stokes has hardly fired a shot on this Ashes tour, while Starc is the leading candidate for Player of the Series.
Pundits have called for Starc to be promoted up the Australian batting order above skipper Pat Cummins, who has averaged 11.33 with the bat in Test cricket since January 2019.
Cummins has batted ahead of his New South Wales teammate in 19 of the 21 Tests they’ve played together since the 2017/18 Ashes series.
Starc has 10 Test fifties to his name, including a career-best of 99 against India in 2013. Cummins has reached the minor milestone on two occasions at Test level, both of which were in 2018.
“I was actually going to speak to him (Starc) about that today,“ Cummins told reporters at the SCG on Tuesday.
“I think he‘s averaging 50-odd and he’s number seven in the runs scoring list for this series, he’s been fantastic.
“We always go a bit … one game I‘ll be eight, and then he’ll be eight and we always seem that whoever bats nine scores runs.
“So we‘ll see … I’m definitely open to that and we’ll chat about it.”
Starc was left stranded on 24 not out while batting at No. 10 in Melbourne last week after running out of partners – the Australians are losing valuable runs by leaving him down the order.
The 31-year-old is on the verge of joining an exclusive club of cricketers with 250 wickets and 2000 runs at Test level – Shane Warne and Mitchell Johnson are the only other Australians to achieve the feat.
“For his name to be consistently thrown about like ‘he should be dropped’ or ’he shouldn’t be in the team’, I just find it ludicrous,” former Australian paceman Brett Lee told Fox Cricket last week.
“Absolutely absurd. He’s always the first to be thrown under the bus.
“You don‘t take over 250 Test wickets by fluking it. It’s hard work, dedication and sacrifice.”
ICC Men’s Test All-Rounder Rankings
1. Jason Holder (WI) – 382
2. Ravichandran Ashwin (IND) – 345
3. Ravindra Jadeja (IND) – 339
4. Shakib Al Hasan (BAN) – 338
5. Mitchell Starc (AUS) – 321
6. Ben Stokes (ENG) – 304
7. Kyle Jamieson (NZ) – 303
8. Pat Cummins (AUS) – 253
9. Chris Woakes (ENG) – 230
10. Colin de Grandhomme (NZ) – 223
Originally published as Stars prove Australian quick Mitchell Starc deserves a promotion