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Starc psyched for Boxing Day debut
Aussie spearhead Mitchell Starc is about to play his first Boxing Day Test, a full five years after his Test debut in December 2011.
Since then he has missed Tests against India in 2011 and 2014, South Africa in 2012, England in 2013 and West Indies in 2015. In 2012 he was rested while 2013 and 2015 saw him sit out due to injuries.
For an Australian to miss such a landmark Test in the Australian calendar is unthinkable and with his performances this season, Starc has ensured he won't miss it in 2016.
He singlehandedly kept Australia competitive with the ball in Sri Lanka, was a constant threat against South Africa in the home Tests and when Pakistan threatened to chase 490 in the Pink Test at Brisbane last week, Starc kept his calm to seal the game for the hosts.
The series against South Africa saw Australia make bold changes to their line up so Starc has company among Boxing Day greenhorns. "There's a few of us in the rooms that are yet to play one," Starc said. "Personally, as a kid growing up watching the Boxing Day Test, it's always been a dream of mine to play in front of a full house at the MCG on Boxing Day. If I get the chance this week I'll tick that one off and it'll be a fantastic experience to walk out and sing that anthem. To play a Boxing Day Test will be pretty special."
In 2012, Starc had been rested against Australia under their rotation policy to manage workloads. This time he feels he is ready to handle the exertion.
"Whether we've got three quicks and a spinner or three quicks, an allrounder and a spinner, there's going to be times when we have high workloads and times when we dont" he said. "So I guess it comes back to us and making sure we can take ten wickets quicker than 130 overs, and then no one's asking that question. Whichever way they go this week, we'll prepare to bowl a lot of overs if we need, and if not, perfect.
"The last ball I bowled in that Test match, which was in my 56th over, was 149 clicks, so no issues on my end. I can only speak for myself. You'd have to ask the other quicks if they're any different. A Boxing Day Test just gets everyone up and ready to go."
Finally, he is relieved to go back to bowling with the red ball. The pink ball becomes easier to play for batsmen as Australia found out in Pakistan's second innings at the Gabba.
"We won't have to worry about a pink one for the rest of the summer, thankfully," Starc said. "I think they've come a long way with the pink ball where it's improved a lot since they first introduced it, but it still doesn't wear like a red ball. It's a ball that's really hard to get to go reverse because the leather is different. When it wears it sort of cracks and splinters off, whereas the red one scratches and creates a rough side where you can reverse it.
"I still think there's a way to go where they're very similar. But look, Kookaburra are working really hard and I'm sure they'll get there eventually. And the product is a fantastic thing, when you see the numbers and the spectacle that is day-night cricket. It's definitely here to stay. The ball's just got to catch up."