Mitchell Starc has finally claimed his 200th Test wicket on Day 1 in the first Test against Sri Lanka at the Gabba. It comes more than seven years after he claimed his first Test wicket, ironically at the same venue.
The Australian paceman struck just after tea in the day-night Test, claiming the wicket of Suranga Lakmal. He was unlucky not to have had it earlier, with Lahiru Thirimanne given out LBW, before the decision was overturned after being referred.
Starc’s strike rate of 51.2 is the second-best of any Australian bowler with 200 or more Test wickets, eclipsed only by Mitchell Johnson, who boasts a strike rate of 51.1. Johnson took 313 Test wickets from 73 Test matches and famously terrorised the English batsmen in Australia’s 5-0 whitewash in the 2013/14 Ashes.
Starc’s 200th wicket now brings him level with fiery paceman Jeff Thomson, who played 51 Test matches for Australia, much of which was teamed with Dennis Lillee. The Lillee and Thomson pace combination was one of the most feared in world cricket during the 1970s.
Starc’s milestone is a rare cause for celebration in what has been a dull and poor summer for Australian cricket. Australia lost their opening ODI series against South Africa 2-1, despite pulling out a gutsy 7 run win in their second ODI fixture. Furthermore, the Australian Test team were then beaten by India in the four match Test series 2-1, despite again showing positive signs in their victory in Perth. To top it all off, Australia lost their ODI series 2-1 against India, meaning the visitors completed their first clean sweep of both Test and ODI series wins on Australian soil.
Starc’s struggles this summer have been but a small part of the Australian team’s poor performances across various formats, particularly in terms of batting. Starc was noticeably criticised by Shane Warne throughout the India series, with Warne claiming Starc’s line, length and overall accuracy had deteriorated substantially. Australian fans can only hope that Starc’s new milestone could bring about some new form and help Australia out of its current slump.