Harris issues Starc warning


Former Australia fast bowler Ryan Harris is confident Mitchell Starc will be able to emulate namesake Mitchell Johnson and wreak havoc among England’s batsmen in the Ashes.

Johnson was the chief destroyer in the 2013-14 series Down Under, when England began the first Test full of confidence but left on the wrong end of a 5-0 thumping.

The left-arm quick had previously been a figure of fun among England’s ‘Barmy Army’ supporters, with his sometimes wayward bowling enough to earn him his own derogatory song among the thousands of pink-faced fans stacked high in the stands.

But he finally hit his straps against the old enemy and ended up taking an incredible 37 wickets at an average of just 13.97 as the Three Lions were blown away time after time.

The Queenslander is now retired from international cricket and the Aussies attack is led by another left-arm fast bowler, with Starc set to spearhead a trio including Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood.

Starc had been injured and missed the tour to Bangladesh to ensure he was fully fit to face Joe Root’s men, and it seems to have done the trick as the 27-year-old has been taking wickets for fun for state side New South Wales.

He claimed 17 scalps in two Sheffield Shield matches, including the rare feat of taking two hat-tricks in one game, and his sights will now be firmly trained on England’s opening batsmen.

Whether he can have the same effect on the series as Johnson did four years ago only time will tell but Harris, who shared the new ball with Johnson in that series, has backed his compatriot to do the business.

“He’s definitely got it in him. I’ve just spent some time with him. He’s bowling fast,” he told Reuters.” He probably had a little bit of an issue over the last few months with not swinging the ball as much as he’d like.

“But giving him that red ball, he’s probably as consistent as I’ve seen him for a while as well.”

Fans do not have too long to wait for battle lines to be drawn, with the first Test in Brisbane set to get under way on Thursday, November 23.

There will many bleary-eyed Englishmen and women at work on Friday morning who have stayed up half the night to see if Root can inspire his side to glory, with plenty of games at Casinomir on hand to keep the mind focused during the breaks in play.

While Starc is clearly the focal point of the home attack, the supporting cast are just as important and Harris, who now works as a high performance coach at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane, feels it will be a collective effort that gets the Baggy Greens over the line.

“I remember (captain) Michael Clarke sitting the three of us down and telling us what he wanted of us, that he wanted us to be close to each other and talking to each other all the time about good and bad things, and how he wanted us to be a team within a team,” he added.

“For us, it wasn’t necessarily about taking wickets, it was about bowling dots and putting pressure on at the other end.”