Marnus Labuschagne won man-of-the-match for scoring a century and a fifty in Adelaide, but it was “exceptional” Mitchell Starc who was praised by stand-in Australia captain Steve Smith after England were beaten by 275 runs in the second Ashes Test.
The left-arm seamer led from the front after his regular partners Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood were both ruled out of the Adelaide day-night clash, replaced by inexperienced pair Jhye Richardson and Michael Neser.Starc took 4-37 to help skittle England for 236 in the first innings and a fiery 2-43 as they were bowled out for 192 on Monday.
“They all bowled exceptionally well as a group, led by Mitchell Starc,” said Smith, captaining the side for the first time in nearly four years after Cummins was ruled out as a close contact of a Covid case. “Mitch led the attack really well. He summed it up quickly, not a great deal of swing so he bashed a good length, across the right-handers, in great rhythm. I’m really proud of how he went about his business. Mitch is an exceptional bowler, he has been for a long time. Look at his strike rate, he”s up there with some of the best in the world,” he added.
Starc has taken 264 wickets at 27.36 in his 63 Tests so far. Smith was also chuffed with the way Richardson slotted back into the team at short notice for Hazlewood, who has a side strain but was included in the 15-man squad for the third Test in Melbourne next Sunday, along with Cummins. Richardson took 5-42 in England’s second innings in his first Test since 2019 when he faced Sri Lanka in his only two previous outings, having endured a long recovery from a shoulder dislocation and subsequent surgeries. “He bowled really nice and pleased for him to get five wickets, I’m sure he will take a lot of confidence out of that. Jhye adapted well through this match which was particularly pleasing,” said Smith.