Ex-Australia paceman Mitchell Johnson believes Mitchell Starc will reach 400 Test wickets quicker than Dale Steyn did.
Steyn has 416 wickets in 84 matches and took 80 of those to reach the 400-mark – the third-highest of all time behind Richard Hadlee and Muttiah Muralitharan. No South African has taken more wickets than him against Australia, with 69 scalps from 14 matches at an average of 27.13.
‘He will be contesting Steyn’s record,’ Johnson told local media. ‘Dale has played 80-odd Tests and has 400.
‘Starc is on that track at the moment. He’s getting five wickets a Test. He has got the pace and he has got the bounce.
‘He is going to be in his prime over the next few years which makes it more scary.’
Johnson said Starc’s ‘rhythm’ was affected by injuries and bowlers being rotated, which has set him back from being at the top of his game.
‘His one-day and short-form results have been awesome but it was in Tests that he didn’t get that rhythm,’ Johnson continued.
‘He kept coming in and out of the team and he had a season, when I first came back into the team, against Sri Lanka in 2012, where he got dropped for that Boxing Day Test because they needed to rest him.
‘The rotation thing was holding him back; he wasn’t getting consistent cricket. Now that he is playing and fortunately he didn’t sustain any major injury with that freak accident, he is on top of his game.’
The battle between Starc and Steyn will begin in the first Test in Perth on Thursday.