Starc wanted to quit Test cricket; Warne’s criticism didn’t help

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Australian pace bowler Mitchell Starc has said that he had reached a point in his career last year when he didn’t really want to play Test cricket. Starc also made it apparent that the criticism from former spin wizard Shane Warne ahead of the Ashes had not gone down well with him.

On Saturday, Starc, whose all-round performance during the recently concluded Ashes was the key to the hosts winning the series 4-0, received the highest individual award in Australian men’s cricket — the Allan Border Medal — based on his performance in the last 12 months.

The 31-year-old Starc also became just the fifth pace bowler in 22 years to win the Medal to join the likes of Test skipper Pat Cummins, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath as the only fast bowlers to win the top award since it was introduced in 2000.

But Starc said there was a point in his career where he simply had no zeal left to continue playing Test cricket.

“Obviously last year was particularly tough on and off the field,” Starc was quoted as saying by foxsports.com.au after being handed the AB Medal on Saturday. “I probably didn’t play the cricket I wanted to and, at certain stages, I probably didn’t want to play cricket at all.”

The pacer was heavily scrutinised after his below-par performance in the 2020/21 series against India, where he took just 11 wickets at 40.72. On a personal front, his father passed away after battling cancer weeks after the India series.

To make matters worse, his performance in the ICC T20 World Cup in Dubai too left a lot to be desired, with the pacer conceding 60 runs without taking a wicket in his four overs in the final. Criticism started mounting ahead of the Ashes, with Warne suggesting that Jhye Richardson should play the first Test at Brisbane.

“I think, what was it? It was a straight half-volley on leg stump I think someone (Warne) said,” said Starc on the criticism from the legendary spinner.

“What would you like me to speak to him (Warne) about? It doesn’t interest me at all. He’s (Warne) entitled to his opinion. I’m just going to go about my cricket the way I’d like to, and I’ve got my family support networks and I get to play cricket with some of my best mates, so I’m pretty comfortable with where I’m at,” said Starc.

Starc played all five Ashes games, coming up with one of his best Test series with 19 wickets at an average of 25.37.

Starc said that it’s the opinion of his wife and Australia wicket-keeper, Alyssa Healy, that matters the most to him, adding that blocking the voices of others had helped him keep a cool head in the last two years.

“I made it a key point of mine to not pay too much attention to, I guess, opinions outside of my circle of trust if you like, which I did a few years ago. And I think that’s kept me in a pretty level space through the last few years with either not playing the cricket I wanted to, or certainly challenges off the field. I’ve got a wife who plays at the highest level and a couple of my closest mates who play international cricket, so I’ve got a pretty good sounding board in that regard.”

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