Crescent Kashmir

Starc bulked up to challenge 160km speed mark

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SYDNEY: Mitchell Starc remains wary of injuries from bowling too fast but the Australia paceman hopes to push the 160km per hour mark in the coming home summer after adding five kg to his frame during a long off-season.

The tall left-armer is one of only a handful of bowlers to have recorded a delivery over that mark, sending down a sizzling 160.4 kph yorker during the second Test against New Zealand at the WACA Ground in 2015.

Starc broke down early in the next match at Adelaide Oval — the inaugural day-night Test match — with a stress fracture.

He also strained a pectoral muscle last year after cranking up the pace against Sri Lanka in Canberra.

However, feeling refreshed and stronger from the long break since the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) put a halt to cricket in March, Starc hopes he might be able to return to top speed.

“It would be nice but at the same time the two occasions I’ve been up around that [160kph] mark I’ve snapped my foot,” he said in comments published by Cricket Australia’s website. “Hopefully that’s not the case but when everything is going well, that rhythm is happening and conditions suit, then I can get that speed gun up.

“Perhaps that extra time in the gym and extra time off I might be able to push the limits again.”

Starc’s next international assignment is expected to be a white-ball tour of England slated for September, with India to tour later in the year amid strict bio-security arrangements.

Starc tweaked his action with the help of New South Wales assistant coach Andre Adams last year and bowled with pace and control to take 29 wickets in five Tests against Pakistan and New Zealand in the last home summer.

“At the start of the [2019-20] summer and after that UK tour, I very much got in that line and length [and] consistency mindset that the whole [fast bowling] group were about through the Ashes,” he said.

“I still want to bowl fast and I’m not going to compromise that but I had to find a way that I wasn’t expensive at the same time.

“That’s not to say that’s not important, but I think I’ve found a happy medium with this little tweak to still have that better consistency but still have my pace.”

Only a handful of bowlers are in the 100 mph club, with Pakistan’s Shoaib Akhtar considered the fastest ever with his 100.2 mph (161.3kph) rocket in 2003 — the world’s quickest delivery.

Virat Kohli’s India are due to play four Tests in Australia from early December, although what venues are used remains uncertain due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Published in Dawn, August 14th, 2020

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