Like a launching barrel flinging out missiles, Mitchell Starc’s deliveries have been creating ripples at the international circuit ever since the strapping left-armer first played for Australia in 2010. Ever since Mitchell Johnson’s departure, Starc has managed to spearhead Australia’s fast bowling arsenal in all three formats, probing the batsmen with his disconcerting pace and late swing. Ask Karun Nair’s leg stump, which saw itself cut in half during the Bengaluru Test.
An untimely stress fracture has brought a sudden halt to his tour to India, forcing Australia to scamper for a replacement ahead of the next Test at Ranchi. We look at five potential candidates who can somehow fill the huge void left by the 27-year old star:
Tests: 1, Wickets: 7, Average: 16.71
As an 18-year old making his debut against South Africa, Cummins should have been all jitters, but churned out a sensational performance, picking up seven wickets to help his side achieve a close win in 2011. It has been six years, however, and that match remains Cummins’ only Test till date.
Cummins has had the experience of playing the IPL, donning the KKR jersey for a few matches in 2013 and 2014, apart from playing the Champions League T20 in the country with the Sydney Sixers.
A potent weapon with the new ball, Cummins is in Australia’s limited-over scheme of things, having featured in the ODI series against New Zealand just last month.
Tests: 17, Wickets: 70, Average: 26.15
The 26-year old pacer burst into the limelight in 2011, picking up ten wickets against New Zealand and earning a Man of the Match award on debut. He capped it off by taking a total of 13 wickets in two Tests against India at home. In 2013, he travelled with the team to India, gaining the invaluable experience of playing three Tests in the subcontinent, traits that very well help him set up a strong resume for a return. However, the only thing against him is the fact that he last played a Test more than a year ago.
He boosted the chances of a Test recall with an inspired spell of bowling against Western Australia in the Sheffield Shield final, taking three wickets in six balls to put the brakes on their innings.
First-class: 27, Wickets: 114, Average: 22.64
A like for like replacement for Starc would be someone in the mould of Behrendorff, who is a spritely left arm pacer with the ability to induce swing in his delivery, an art Starc has mastered over the years.
He made a sensational comeback from injury this month, picking nine wickets against Perth in a Sheffield Shield game, the fifth best figures in the history of the tournament. His watershed season in domestic cricket came in 2013-14, when he snared a total of 40 victims, second only to Steve O’Keefe.
His red hot form warrants a selection, but his record with injuries is the only case against him.
First class: 53, Wickets: 217, Average: 23.62
Having come close to a debut in his hometown in Adelaide as part of the day-night Test against South Africa late last year, Sayers has always been under the selectors’ radar, especially because of his stupendous form in Sheffield Shield in the last four years, particularly this season where he has already picked up 50 wickets.
The debut hasn’t come, but the 29-year old, who made his first-class debut in 2011, was a late bloomer at the domestic level, unlocking a different dimension to his bowling in the 2012-13 season where he topped the Sheffield Shield lists with 48 wickets.
He has the ability to swing the ball away from the right-hander, but the 5’11’’ bowler isn’t exactly in the traditional tall fast bowler mould. Yet, his fabulous record in the last few seasons is enough for him to merit a Test cap, one which he came agonisingly close to in the Adelaide Test last year.
First class: 31, Wickets: 111, Average: 24.87
Recently in the news for his maiden hundred that turned out to be an unlikely rescuer for Victoria, Tremain is better known for his exploits with the ball, one that he bowls with his slingy right-arm action.
Someone who has been giving Sayers tough competition in the Sheffield Shield in the last few seasons, the tall 25-year old has worked closely with David Saker, Australia’s assistant coach during the latter’s stint at Victoria. He was selected in Australia’s ODI squad against South Africa in October last year, highlighting that he was in the selectors’ scheme of things, but could play only four games before being left in the lurch. The experience of playing against India could be something that could turn out to be a huge boost to Tremain’s career.