Sports

The Ashes 2021-22: Mitchell Starc, Shane Warne criticism, Mitchell Johnson


Australian fast-bowling great Mitchell Johnson has asked a question of Shane Warne following the leg-spin legend’s latest takedown of his chief whipping boy, Mitchell Starc – and he took a swipe in the process.

Johnson has weighed in on Warne’s well-documented history of taking jibes at Starc’s bowling after the 145-Test great declared on Fox Cricket this week that the left-arm quick was “nowhere” ahead of the Ashes.

Never one to back away from voicing his opinion, Australia’s greatest-ever Test wicket-taker has taunted Starc about his body language, rhythm and, in his eyes, reliance on uprooting the stumps of tail-enders over the course of his 61-Test career.

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Warne’s latest barb has led to input from Johnson, a former teammate of Starc, as Australia zero in on their home Ashes campaign.

“We all know that Warnie loves to get his opinion out there – and he’s deserved it, as well,” Johnson said in an interview with Wide World of Sports.

“I guess the frustrating thing from Starcy’s point of view is that it’s always Warnie saying the same thing.”

Then came the question.

“I don’t know if they’ve even spoken one on one… I just wonder if Warnie actually contacts him and has a chat with him about what he thinks, gives him some advice, instead of just saying it in the media for show,” Johnson said.

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There’s no denying that Starc was only a shadow of his exceptional best during his most recent Test series.

The New South Welshman took just 11 wickets in the four-Test Border-Gavaskar Trophy series in Australia last summer, as a severely depleted India pulled off an incredible 2-1 win.

Australia haven’t played any Test cricket since and Starc is currently in the Middle East for the T20 World Cup.

Johnson hopes Starc is aware of Warne’s latest swipe despite the thousands of kilometres that separate them.

“I think this will actually fire up Starcy again,” Johnson said.

“I think he quite enjoys Warnie having a bit of a dip at him. Whether or not Warnie has actually caught onto this or not, where he actually knows he’s going to fire him up and get him going all right… Sometimes it takes a bit of a wake-up call or someone to say something like that.”

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Johnson, a former left-arm tearaway who took 313 wickets from 73 Tests, is very well acquainted with the challenges Starc faces as he plies his trade.

“He’s had a bit of a problem with swinging the ball. The ball swings and then it stops swinging and your line is just off as a left-armer,” Johnson said.

“We have to be so tight. When you’re bowling to a right-hander, if you pitch it outside off stump, say a four-stump line, and it stops swinging, you’ve got to be onto that pretty quickly, because the angle makes it pretty easy for a batsman to hit that through cover or point or run it down to third man.

“He’d be working on it.”

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