Melbourne: Former Australia captain Mark Taylor has said that fast bowlers Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc will need to curb their attacking enthusiasm if they’re both picked for the first Test against New Zealand.
Starc and Johnson, the two wicket-taking linchpins of Australia’s bowling attack, have shown the benefits of a rare break from international cricket during this month’s Matador One-Day Cup, bowling with considerable pace and movement in an impressive tune-up ahead of the first Test against the Black Caps in a fortnight.
While the left-armers are two of the most feared bowlers in the world, Taylor has repeated his belief that he would find it hard to pick both in the same side if they are to concede runs at the rate they did at times during the Ashes.
Both Starc (18 wickets at an average of 30) and Johnson (15 wickets at 35) bowled some destructive spells during the Ashes, but also conceded runs at a high rate, particularly in Australia’s defeats at Cardiff, Edgbaston and Trent Bridge.
Their economy rates mirrored Australia’s success in the UK, Starc conceded 4.37 runs an over and Johnson 4.21 in the three Tests Australia lost, compared to 3.01 and 3.07 respectively in victories at Lord’s and The Oval.
Taylor first questioned the wisdom of picking the two left-armers in the same side during the fifth Test and he has once again repeated his concerns. He also quashed media reports that he’d called for Johnson to retire and dismissed the suggestion that he, as a Cricket Australia director, or anyone else at CA had influence over Australia’s four-man selection panel.
“As I was then and as I’m speaking now, I’m speaking as a cricket commentator. That’s my role first and foremost when we’re at the ground. This idea that there’s discussion in CA’s offices (about Johnson and Starc), that’s totally irrelevant. It doesn’t matter what people in the CA offices think. It matters what the four selectors think. That’s the only office you’ve got to worry about,” Taylor was quoted as saying by cricket.com.au on Friday.
“What I said at the time, and I stick with it, is I would find it hard as a selector to pick them (Johnson and Starc) both in the team if they both bowled the same way they did in the Ashes series. They both at times picked up wickets but they were also going at four-and-a-half, five and sometimes six an over. And from a captaincy point of view it makes it almost impossible, as we saw in the Ashes series, to apply pressure if you have two bowlers who are in a way similar.”
“There are some things that make them dissimilar, but there are similarities in the way they bowl. If they both want to be attacking left-arm bowlers who are just purely looking for wickets and going and five and six an over, it’s very hard to pick both of them,” he said.