Mitchell Starc, Australia’s pace spearhead, has not been at his best in 2018. After picking up nine wickets in the Durban Test against South Africa, including a haul of 5/34, Starc suffered from fitness issues which kept him out of action for close to six months. The left-armer made a comeback in the Pakistan Tests in the UAE but he lacked rhythm and control as he finished with just four wickets at an average of 44. In the Tests against India, he looked wayward and finished with just 13 wickets in four Tests at an average of 64. In the Day-Night Test against Sri Lanka in Brisbane, Starc appeared to have trapped Lahiru Thirimanne LBW for 5 but the decision was overturned on review.
However, Starc’s frustrations ended later in the day as he finally got his 200th Test wicket when he had Suranga Lakmal caught at third slip by Marnus Labuschagne for 7. The ball was full and was bowled from round the wicket, Lakmal looked to defend but the ball nipped away and the edge was taken low. Starc became the 16th Australian bowler to go past 200 Test wickets and he is the 10th quickest to reach the landmark in his 50th Test. Clarrie Grimmett, the legspinner holds the record for the quickest Australian bowler to 200 wickets, achieving it in just his 36th Test while among pacers Dennis Lillee took 38 Tests to get to the landmark.
Starc is the second Australian left-arm pacer to take over 200 wickets in Tests, with Mitchell Johnson being the other, having taken 313 wickets. The Australian is the seventh left-arm pacer to take over 200 wickets, with Pakistan sensation Wasim Akram taking 414 wickets in 104 Tests. Things got even better for Starc as he dismissed Dilruwan Perera for 1, edging to Labuschagne at slip.
Australia will be looking to start 2019 off to a great start as they aim to win the Test series against Sri Lanka. Tim Paine’s side have not lost a Test in the Gabba for over 30 years and they have never lost a Day-Night Test. Sri Lanka, on the other hand, have also not lost a Pink Ball Test but they have never won a Test match in Australia.