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Starc pearler cracks England's defence as Australia seek to terrorise tail


Is Mitchell Starc the owner of the ‘ball of the 21st century’?

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Spinner Shane Warne took the mantle for the 20th century, but Starc produced his own candidate yesterday with a pearler of a delivery that bowled James Vince during the third Ashes Test at the WACA Ground.

But here’s the proviso – it was a WACA crack that did most of the work.

Bowling around the wicket, Starc sent down a 144km/h thunderbolt.

Without deviation, the ball would have missed the stumps and gone down the leg side. 

But instead, it hit the crack, straightened up, and rocketed the off-stump of Vince.

Vince missed the ball by about 10cm and later admitted there was simply nothing he could have done to stop the outcome.

“If I face that another 20 or 30 times, I think it would get me out every time,” said Vince, who was on 55 when confronted with the unplayable delivery.

Warne labelled Starc’s delivery as the ball of the Ashes.

But former England captain Michael Vaughan went even further, labelling it the ball of the 21st century.

Australian paceman Josh Hazlewood says Starc has the chance to repeat the feat today by staying around the wicket to England’s right-handers.

“It’s hitting that crack and it’s probably heading down leg more often than not,” Hazlewood said. 

“But you only need a couple to straighten off that, and you’re in the game. It was a pretty special ball.

“I’d love five or six more tomorrow. 

“We’re obviously aiming for that crack from that end, as Jimmy (Anderson) did at the start of the day to get a couple of LBWs.”

Starc has a history of creating special headlines at the WACA.

In November 2015, Starc entered cricket folklore by sending down a delivery against NZ that registered 160.4km/h on the speed gun – the fastest ever by a left-armer.

However, NZ batting coach Craig McMillan queried the legitimacy of the speed reading, saying that to him the ball looked similar to Starc’s other deliveries that were around the 150km/h mark.

While Australia made swift work of England’s top order yesterday, Hazlewood believes they are dominating the tale of the tails this Ashes series, saying his opposite numbers “didn’t want to be out there” in England’s first innings at the WACA.

Hazlewood, Starc and Pat Cummins have peppered the tourists’ tailenders with bouncers throughout the five-Test series, and the ploy has been quite successful. England were in the box seat to post an imposing first-innings total in the ongoing third Test after centuries from Dawid Malan and Jonny Bairstow, then lost 6-35.

There were similar collapses from England’s tail at the Gabba and Adelaide Oval.

In sharp contrast, Australia’s tail has wagged consistently. Cummins has outscored England opener Alastair Cook in the series.

“We’ve made their tail feel very uncomfortable. We saw on day two they didn’t want to be out there,” Hazlewood said.

“We’ll obviously keep continuing to do that and hopefully have the same results.”

Hazlewood added the chin music could become even more effective with every Test.

“Obviously with Mitchell Johnson four years ago – it kept snowballing as the series went on,” the right-armer said.

Stuart Broad has looked particularly uncomfortable, with former Australia opener Chris Rogers branding his batting in Perth “abysmal” and “lacking courage”.

England’s No.11 batsman Jimmy Anderson asked the umpire in Brisbane whether the hosts’ bowling was dangerous during the first Test – a point that Ian Chappell also raised in commentary at the WACA on Friday.

Cummins admitted on day three he’s loving the sight of England’s tailenders squirming amid the many collapses they’ve suffered.

“That’s the thing I love about watching fast bowling. You can be the greatest batsman in the world but you still have to face a 150 km/h bouncer,” Cummins told ABC radio.

“Seeing their tail jump around, I think that sends a pretty strong message to the rest of their change room.

“Seeing them jump around, it feels like we’re on top.”


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