Sunday, April 7, 2013

Don't gauge the Ashes on the India debacle: Starc

Mitchell Starc says the challenges of India have hardened him and his fellow bowlers.

Mitchell Starc says the challenges of India have hardened him and his fellow bowlers. Photo: AP

Australian fast bowler Mitchell Starc said critics were reading too much into the challenges the team faced in India as a gauge to how the Ashes tour would pan out.

Starc enhanced his reputation as one of the Australian team's genuine scrappers despite the Michael Clarke-led squad losing the series 4-0. Apart from giving his all with the ball on dead tracks, the 23-year-old left-armer also showed great determination and grit with the bat - the highlight being his rearguard innings when he fell one run short of scoring a century in the third Test.

After having the stitches removed from his right ankle on Friday as he recovered from the bone-spur operation which ended his tour prematurely, Starc predicted the playing conditions in England would be far kinder to the Australians than the subcontinent was.

''I don't think there's any point in comparing England to India,'' Starc said. ''The conditions are so different, obviously the wickets in India are flat and slow. There's no grass on them at all and they're made to favour the Indian spinners.

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''You go to England and depending on what time of the season it is; early on it's going to be a lot more grass, a lot more in the wickets, a lot more seam movement and, obviously, the Duke ball is going to swing as well. On the fast-bowling side of things, coming from India means even if we get a flat wicket in England it's going to feel like a green seamer.

''England is going to be a tough tour again, but the conditions mean a different game plan to India.''

Starc said he was set to increase his training after being sidelined following surgery on his right ankle. ''It's two weeks post-op, I've had the stitches taken out,'' said Starc, who has taken 30 wickets in nine Tests. ''I've been back in the gym for a couple of days but now I have the stitches out [two on each side of the ankle] I can really start to ramp it up. I have a lot more range now than I had in the last four months.''

Starc said the challenges of India had hardened him - and the other members of Australia's bowling attack - and they'd learnt plenty in a stressful environment.

''Obviously, it was a pretty tough tour,'' he said. ''For most of us it was our first tour there for Test cricket. For the quicks the tour was all about trying to wear [the Indian batsmen] down and slow the scoreboard down. I think that's when we were most effective, when [we] bowled in those partnerships and slowed the flow of runs.''

■England captain Alastair Cook believes his team could be on the verge of a period of sustained dominance, which would peak with a World Cup triumph in two years. Cook is confident England's recent lacklustre displays in the drawn Test series against New Zealand were just a blip that will soon be forgotten. England plays New Zealand in a Test series rematch then hosts the limited-overs Champions Trophy and the Ashes Test series before heading to Australia for a second Ashes campaign.

Cook's men will be back in Australia and New Zealand for the 2015 World Cup.

Cook refuses to accept that England will start as firm favourite when Australia arrives for the Ashes after being hammered in India.

''We're the first England team to play back-to-back Ashes series so close together, so the potential and the opportunity to do something very special is there,'' Cook said.

■India's selectors on Saturday left out dashing batsman Virender Sehwag from a 30-man preliminary squad for the Champions Trophy in England in June. Seasoned off-spinner Harbhajan Singh and veteran seamer Zaheer Khan were also missing from the list, which has to be shortened to 15 players a month before the tournament.

With afp


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